orovirus cases in hospitals in England acquire jumped sharply and are now at their highest level for the 2022/23 season, figures present.
An average of 840 adult hospital beds were occupied last week by patients with diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus-like symptoms, up 52% from 551 in the previous week.
It is the highest number since reporting began for the current virus season in November 2022.
It is also closely three times the level at this point last year, when the average stood at 293, according to NHS data.
Norovirus is the most common infectious cause of vomiting and diarrhoea.
It spreads easily through contact with someone who has the virus or with contaminated surfaces.
While most people design a full recovery within two or three days, the virus can lead to dehydration, especially among the very young, elderly or those with weakened immune systems.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director for England, said a “surge” in norovirus is one of a number of factors adding to “significant” pressure on NHS staff, along with increased demand for beds and a rise in calls to the 111 service.
We know there has been puny let up for staff this week, with some hospitals experiencing their busiest Monday of the year while strike action continues to present considerable challenges to hospitals
“Despite this, the NHS is continuing to deliver progress against its elective recovery region, with the number of people waiting over 18 months slice by over 9,000 in January compared with the previous month,” Professor Powis added.
“We know there has been puny let up for staff this week, with some hospitals experiencing their busiest Monday of the year while strike action continues to present considerable challenges to hospitals.
“So it is necessary that people continue to approach forward for the care they need by using 999 in an emergency or using 111 online for other conditions.”
Tens of thousands of juniors doctors in England staged a 72-hour walk from Monday to Wednesday this week in protest at levels of pay.
NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, urged the Government and unions to acquire round the table and “redouble” efforts to find a solution to the dispute.
NHS staff answered 333,778 calls to the 111 service last week, up 12% from 297,586 the previous week.
The number of people in hospital in England with Covid-19 is also continuing to increase.
A total of 8,434 patients had tested positive for coronavirus as of March 15, up 10% week-on-week.
Covid-19 hospital cases acquire been on a broad upwards trend since the conclude of January, mirroring a rise in prevalence of the virus among the population.
Patient numbers peaked at 9,535 during the wave of infections at Christmas 2022.
Around two-thirds of patients with Covid-19 are in hospital to be treated primarily for something else, but the precautions necessary to stay the virus spreading are likely to add further pressure on NHS staff.
By contrast, flu levels remain on a downwards path, with an average of 386 hospitals beds in England filled by cases last week, down 10% from 430 the previous week.
The figure stood at 5,441 at the start of the year, following a steep rise in the race up to Christmas.