WARNINGS have been issued after norovirus outbreaks double across the south east.

As outbreaks of norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, increase right across the South East, Public Health England (PHE) is urging people to take simple steps to help stop the spread of the contagious bug.

Levels of norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea, are expected to rise in the winter months.

From the week starting November 18, there were 31 reported cases of the winter vomiting bug compared to 16 cases in the same week last year.

Here's how to stop yourself suffering the winter vomiting bug

Dr Girija Dabke, public health consultant and lead for gastroinstestinal illness for PHE South East, said: “The increase in norovirus that we’re seeing is common for this time of year and is in keeping with what we are seeing across the wider country.

“In recent weeks we have seen outbreaks in schools and care homes, as the infection is more widespread in settings where people are in close contact.

“While it usually only lasts one to two days, it can be extremely unpleasant and is highly contagious.”

Norovirus affects people of all ages and is transmitted by contact with hands or surfaces that the virus has landed on from an infected person.

The warning comes just weeks after Southampton General Hospital had to close bays on six wards due to an outbreak of the illness.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: “The situation has improved over the last week and we now have bays closed on six wards.”

PHE are encouraging people to think NORO:

N - No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of norovirus.

O - Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals and care homes.

R - Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food.

O - Only hand-washing will prevent spread of norovirus.