Health chiefs are warning people to protect themselves and take simple steps to stop the spread of Norovirus.

There have been 214 outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug reported across the South West so far this winter, with 107 outbreaks reported in care homes.

Public Health England (PHE) says now is the time to improve hand hygiene and manage illness at home to stop spread of the unpleasant, infectious bug.

Fiona Neely, consultant in communicable diseases for PHE South West, said: “If you have any suspicion that you have the symptoms of norovirus, we would urge you to put off that visit to see a loved one in a care home or hospital this Christmas. Send someone else in your place, stay away until you have been free of symptoms for 48 hours – and give your relative the gift of a healthy, happy Christmas.

“Levels of norovirus are increasing in line with expected levels so far this winter but many schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes across the South West are already reporting outbreaks.

“The symptoms of norovirus include suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting, and watery diarrhoea. Some people also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps and aching limbs. The symptoms appear one to two days after you become infected and typically last for up to two or three days.”