Official figures show there have been almost 4,000 confirmed cases of norovirus this winter season.
According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the number of cases of the winter vomiting bug reported is 72% higher than at this point last year.
The number of reported cases of the virus dipped during the festive season and during the two weeks up to 30 December 2012 there were 29 hospital outbreaks of the virus reported, compared to 70 in the previous fortnight.
However, it is expected cases will rise again over the next few weeks.
John Harris, an expert in norovirus from the HPA said: “As we have seen in previous years there has been a dip in the number of confirmed laboratory reports owing to the Christmas and New Year period. However, in line with other norovirus seasons we will expect to see an increase in the number of laboratory reports in the next few weeks.
The HPA is advising people to stay away from hospitals, schools and care homes “as these environments are particularly prone to outbreaks” of the virus.
Cases of norovirus have risen earlier than expected this winter season and this is a trend that has been seen across Europe and other parts of the world.
It has not yet been determined why this has happened and why such activity varies significantly from year-to-year.