IPSWICH and Colchester hospitals have bucked the trend after both reported no cases of norovirus in December, against a national outbreak that saw 100,000 people affected by the winter vomiting bug.

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Latest national figures suggested the number of confirmed cases was 72% higher over Christmas than the same 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.

But there were no ward closures at either Ipswich Hospital or Colchester General Hospital in December and no reported cases all month.

At West Suffolk Hospital, three wards were closed to new admissions at different times during December as a result of norovirus.

One of these wards (G5) remains closed. It is currently being cleaned and should reopen by the weekend.

A spokesman said: “We would advise anyone who has had diarrhoea or vomiting to stay away from the hospital for at least 72 hours after they have recovered, even if they feel better. Otherwise they run the risk of unknowingly passing the highly-contagious illness on to someone who is already sick. We would also ask visitors to be vigilant and clean their hands using soap and water when they arrive and before they leave.”

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

Although people can suffer from norovirus at any time of the year, activity increases in the winter months.

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