100,000 struck by sickness bug south of the Border

AROUND 100,000 people were struck down with the winter vomiting bug over Christmas south of the Border, latest figures suggested as it emerged the number of confirmed cases was 72 per cent higher than this time last year.

The dramatic rise was attributed in part to an early outbreak of the illness which closed dozens of hospital wards as it swept across the country.

A total of 3,877 laboratory-confirmed cases of norovirus have now been recorded in England and Wales – up on the 2,255 of last year.

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But the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said that for every reported case, an estimated 288 were not flagged up, meaning around 1.12 million people could have contracted the illness this season.

This is about 100,000 more than during the pre-Christmas period – until 23 December – when 1.01 million people were estimated to have come down with the bug.

John Harris, an expert in norovirus from the HPA, said: “In line with other norovirus seasons we will expect to see an in crease in the number of laboratory reports in the next few weeks.”