Coronavirus: Hospital visits banned

Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital

Visits to hospitals are being restricted to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

All general hospital visiting has stopped.

However, exceptions are in place for child patients admitted, who can be accompanied by one parent or carer and women giving birth, who can have one birthing partner. Children in intensive care can be accompanied by one parent.

One visitor is also allowed for patients in critical care areas and end-of-life care, although the visit must be agreed in advance with the ward sister or charge nurse.

The news comes as the Department of Health announced that work on setting up coronavirus field hospitals is to begin immediately.

In a stark letter, the department told the north's health and social care trusts that hospitals do not presently have enough intensive care beds for the number of Covid-19 patients they expect to see.

Yesterday the north's chief medical officer warned that many thousands of people here may already have coronavirus.

Dr Michael McBride said testing will increase to more than 1,000 a day by next week – and that will help give a better idea of the infection's spread.

Around 40,000 of the most vulnerable are to be written to by their GPs, urging them to be extra careful and stay at home.

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