The number of NHS beds closed due to norovirus-type symptoms has more than doubled in a week, according to figures.
Department of Health data for England reveals the average number of beds closed per day rose from 720 to 1,545 between December 11 and December 18.
The beds were shut due to diarrhoea and vomiting or norovirus-like symptoms.
Wards are closed in NHS hospitals as part of steps to control the virus and stop it spreading between patients.<
There are also figures available from the Health Protection Agency on the number of cases of norovirus that have been confirmed in laboratories.
Data published earlier this week, showed that the weekly number of cases for norovirus in the previous three weeks were slightly below the average number for this time of year.
Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces and objects.
The virus is known to spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Symptoms include sudden vomiting, diarrhoea or both, a temperature, headache and stomach cramps. The bug usually goes away within a few days.
Although people can suffer from norovirus at any time of the year, activity increases in the winter months as most cases are seen between October and April.
At the week ending November 20, the average number of bed closures per day was 694, dropping to 593 at the week ending November 27. The figure dropped again to 418 at the week ending December 4 before rising to 720 on December 11. It has now more than doubled to 1,545.Suggest a correction