The West Midlands’ hospitals saw an average of one outbreak of norovirus every three days in January.
Figures from Public Health England’s hospital norovirus outbreak reporting scheme (HNORS) recorded 10 outbreaks of norovirus-type symptoms in the region between December 31 and January 27.
Of these, 10 outbreaks led to a ward or bay being closed or restricted to admissions, with four confirmed as being norovirus.
Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease, causes gastroenteritis and is highly infectious. The virus is usually mild and lasts for 1 to 2 days. Symptoms include vomiting, projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.
An “outbreak” is recorded if two or more patients in a ward or bay report repeated vomiting and/or diarrhoea in a 24 hour period, that isn’t due to prescribed drugs or treatments, or an underlying medical condition or existing illness.
Over the period, hospital trusts in the West Midlands reported 1,481 bed closures due to symptoms of norovirus. The figures include beds that were closed for several days.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals reported the highest number, with 829 closures, followed by 396 at University Hospitals Birmingham, 125 at George Eliot Hospital, and 107 at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.
As of February 10 – the most recent figures available – University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire still had eight beds closed due to norovirus, and Walsall Healthcare had 10 closures.
Across England, hospitals recorded 66 outbreaks of norovirus symptoms in the first four weeks of January, 65 of which (98%) led to wards or bays being closed or restriction to admissions
Of these, 43 (65%) were confirmed to be norovirus.
During this period, hospital trusts in England recorded 14,780 bed closures due to norovirus-symptoms, or an average of 528 a day.
The most recent figures from NHS England, show 523 bed closures as of February 10.
In the first four weeks of January, there were 676 laboratory-confirmed reports of norovirus.
This is 2% lower than the average number of laboratory reports for the same period in the five years between 2014 and 2018 (755).