More patients have been struck down with the norovirus vomiting bug this season compared with the previous five years, according to official figures.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows reports of the illness had reached 2,435 this year - 12 per cent more than the average for the same period over the last five years.
In the week ending on Christmas Day, the outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhoea resulted in more bed closures than during the same period last year - rising from an national average of 559 beds closed per day to 699.
Hospitals reported 20 outbreaks of norovirus 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.
Professor Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said: ‘Cases of norovirus are still at the levels that we would expect to see around this time of year in the winter vomiting bug season.
‘Exactly when the peaks in activity occur can vary season to season.
‘Those who get infected with norovirus will usually make a full recovery within one to two days.
‘However, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially in the very young or elderly. Good hygiene is essential to preventing infection, this includes thorough hand washing after using the toilet and before eating or preparing foods.’