The majority of cases have been found in England according to the UKHSA (Picture: Getty Images)

A further 20 cases of hepatitis have been confirmed in children aged 10 and under in the UK.

The total number of cases now stands at 222 as of Wednesday May 25, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

158 of the cases have been logged in England, 31 in Scotland, 17 in Wales and 16 are in Northern Ireland.

Children under five with confirmed hepatitis showed initial symptoms of gastroenteritis illness – such as diarrhoea and nausea – followed by jaundice.

No children have died following a diagnosis.

Dr Renu Bindra, senior medical adviser and incident director at UKHSA, said: ‘Our investigations continue to suggest an association with adenovirus, and we are exploring this link, along with other possible contributing factors including prior infections such as Covid-19.

‘We are working with other countries who are also seeing new cases to share information and learn more about these infections.

‘The likelihood of children developing hepatitis remains extremely low. Maintaining normal hygiene measures, including making sure children regularly wash their hands properly, helps to reduce the spread of many common infections, including adenovirus.

Children affected showed initial symptoms of gastroenteritis illness (Picture: Getty Images)

‘We continue to remind everyone to be alert to the signs of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, look for a yellow tinge in the whites of the eyes – and contact your doctor if you are concerned.’

A small number of children aged over 10 are also being looked into as part of UKHSA’s investigation.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer yesterday today that cases of hepatitis seen around the world in children could be linked to lower immunity levels as a result of lockdowns.

Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver.

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The vital organ helps the body process nutrients, filter blood and fight off infection, meaning hepatitis can be fatal if left untreated.

Health officials have urged parents to take their children to a GP if they start showing symptoms of hepatitis, including yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Other symptoms can include dark urine, pale-grey poo, itchy skin, muscle and joint pains, tiredness, feeling sick, a high temperature, loss of appetite and stomach pain.

Severe hepatitis is rare in otherwise healthy children.

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