The number of Brits suffering from norovirus is at its highest since 2011.
Data from Public Health England shows reports of the vomiting bug are at 2,435 so far this winter – 12% above the average for the same period over the last five years.
The figure is 71% higher than the same period last year, though last winter saw unusually low levels.
In the week up to Christmas Day , vomiting and diarrhoea outbreaks resulted in an average of 699 bed closures a day, up from 559 in the same period last year.
Hospitals reported 20 norovirus outbreaks in the first two weeks of December – 17 of which led to bay or ward closures and 13 of which were confirmed as the bug.
In total so far this season, there have been 163 hospital outbreaks reported.
Nick Phin, deputy director of the PHE’s National Infection Service, said: “Norovirus is a common cause of illness during winter.”