VISITING has been suspended at the Royal United Hospitals in Bath due to the rising number of Covid cases in the hospital and community.

The RUH said it has made the difficult decision to suspend visiting from Thursday (December 30) to protect staff and patients.

Previously, visiting was paused in November 2020 and only reinstated in April 2021 when Covid restrictions relaxed and case rates were relatively low.

Chief nurse, Toni Lynch said: “Suspending visiting isn’t a decision we take lightly.

“However, as the Omicron variant spreads, we have had to take this step in order to keep our patients and staff safe. That’s always our top priority.

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“Patients are encouraged to use phone calls and video calls, and our staff will help with this wherever possible.”

It has said that other than maternity visiting; the only exceptions where one visitor is allowed is when a parent or guardian is visiting their child, for patients nearing end of life and a parent or carer accompanying a vulnerable adult.

People are asked to contact the ward in advance to discuss appropriate arrangements.

Patients with Covid or awaiting results will not be allowed any visitors with the exception of those receiving end of life care.

The restrictions will be kept under review, the hospital added.

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No changes have been made to the rules around maternity visiting.

“A face covering must be worn and your support person must perform a lateral flow test before attending any appointment,” the hospital said.

“If the result is positive they must not attend and follow current government guidance. Proof of a negative result will be requested when you attend.”

For outpatient appointments or care in the emergency department the RUH said; adults should attend on their own unless they need a carer and children can be accompanied by one adult but are asked not to bring siblings.

During this time the RUH asks and encourages visitors to use other methods of keeping in touch. Hospital wards have a mobile phone and an iPad with WhatsApp and Zoom to help keep patients in touch with loved ones through phone and video calls.