The UK’s COVID ban appears to have had a significant impact on stomach infections, with incidences in England dropping by more than half in the first six months of the pandemic.
Data shows that many fewer people experienced vomiting and diarrhea than usual.
According to public health specialists in new research published in BMJ Open, people staying at home, mixing less, and washing their hands will have had an influence.
They think that if we all continued to be more germ-aware, this benefit may continue.
According to routine surveillance in England, the number of outbreaks caused by the winter vomiting bug norovirus has grown in recent weeks, although they are still below the five-year average or customary level for this time of year.
Norovirus is easily spread by coming into contact with infected people or touching contaminated surfaces.
Nausea, projectile vomiting, and diarrhoea are some of the symptoms. It normally fades away in a couple of days, despite the fact that it might be quite painful.
If you have norovirus symptoms, stay at home and do not return to work or send children to school or nursery until 48 hours after the symptoms have gone away.
“Please avoid visiting elderly relatives if you are ill, especially if they are in a care home or hospital,” Prof. Gharbia said.
Prof. Gharbia and colleagues examined data on outbreaks, laboratory notifications, calls to NHS 111 for health advice, GP consultations, and attendance at emergency care for gastrointestinal illnesses in England during the first half of 2020.
Infections caused by germs such as salmonella and listeria, as well as the winter vomiting virus, were among the causes.
During the UK’s first COVID wave, Google Trends data indicated that internet searches for key phrases like “food poisoning,” “gastroenteritis,” and “illness bug” decreased, but searches for “handwashing” and “disinfection” increased significantly.
In England, about 17 million episodes of gastrointestinal infections occur each year, resulting in over one million calls or visits for medical advice or treatment.