Cases of the dreaded winter vomiting bug known as the norovirus have struck 72 per cent higher than a year ago, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has revealed.

The latest figures from the HPA showed there had been 3,877 laboratory-confirmed cases of norovirus from July to December 2012, compared with 2,255 in the same period in 2011.

For every confirmed case, the HPA estimated another 288 went unreported, as most people did not visit their doctor when they had the bug.

Despite this rise, hospitals in the area reported low outbreak numbers in their wards.

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital reported 11 confirmed cases of the bug and a further 15 suspected cases across both hospitals since the start of November.

As a result, the hospital have not had to close any wards of restrict visiting. 

Kingston Hospital also reported low numbers of the bug, with eight cases of norovirus since the beginning of November.

Linda Towey, infection control consultant nurse at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital, said: “We do not currently have an outbreak of norovirus at Ashford and St Peter’s and would like to keep our wards free of it.

“To help us prevent the introduction and spread of the virus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, we would like to ask visitors and members of staff with diarrhoea and vomiting to stay away for 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.”