TV chef Heston Blumenthal has shut his gourmet London restaurant after it was hit by an outbreak of the same vomiting virus which forced him to close the Fat Duck five years ago.

The "culinary alchemist" apologised to customers at his exclusive two Michelin-starred Dinner, which will remain closed for a week after 45 diners and members of staff were infected.

The award-winning Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was out of action for two weeks in 2009 following an outbreak of the winter bug that left more than 500 people feeling sick.

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The 47-year-old said yesterday his personal experience and knowledge of the virus meant he knew that it was best to "err on the side of extreme caution".

"I am very sorry for the inconvenience to those customers affected by cancellations," he said.

"However, I will reopen the restaurant safe in the knowledge that we have done everything we can do to continue to strive to create the perfect environment and food for my guests to enjoy."

A total of 24 diners and 21 members of staff were taken ill at the restaurant, in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

James Armitage, the Westminster City Council food safety manager, said: "Test results this week have shown that there has been an outbreak of norovirus at the Dinner restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.

"The operators have now temporarily closed the restaurant and we believe this is the responsible thing to do."