Norovirus is spreading across England at a higher rate than in previous years, Public Health England has warned.  

New data shows that 154 cases of the stomach bug were reported over the last five weeks, compared to an average of 53 reported over the same period in the previous five years.  

The number of infected people is ‘unusual’ for the summer months and may continue to increase as lockdown restrictions continue to be dropped, PHE explained.  

Outbreaks of the bug have be found mostly in educational settings, particularly in nursery and childcare facilities, as England has started to loosen its Covid restrictions. 

According to PHE, norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhoea and is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals or contaminated surfaces. 

Professor Saheer Gharbia, deputy director, National Infection Service, PHE, said that cases of the virus have increased as restrictions have eased, as the virus has more opportunities to spread among the public. 

He said: ‘Symptoms include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs. 

‘Stay at home if you are experiencing norovirus symptoms and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared. 

‘As with Covid-19, handwashing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and water is best.’