Covid: Ipswich and Colchester hospitals reintroduce visits

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Image caption,
Patients can have visitors for one hour a day after they have been in hospital for 24 hours

Visitors have been welcomed back to wards at a number of hospitals in east Suffolk and north Essex.

The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) had suspended a large majority of visiting due to an increase in Covid-19 cases.

Patients at the hospitals, which include Ipswich and Colchester, can now have one visitor a day, after they have been in hospital for 24 hours.

The trust's chief nurse said the changes would be under close review.

Visits will be restricted to one hour slot a day, and they must be pre-booked, the trust said.

ESNEFT's visiting policy applies at Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital, Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.

Different arrangements are in place on the trust's maternity wards.

Suffolk became an enhanced response area (ERA) earlier this month to help tackle rising coronavirus cases.

Official figures showed there were 2,973 new infections in the county in the seven days to 21 November, which was up by 250 on the previous week, but the national trend was down.

Image caption,
Ipswich Hospital is one of the hospitals that has reintroduced visits

Chief nurse Giles Thorpe said: "We're very happy that we can safely welcome some visitors back to our hospitals, but we now need our communities' help to keep visiting open.

"Please take up the offer of the Covd-19 vaccine, and the booster if you're eligible, take a lateral flow test before you visit our wards and stay at home if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or you're unwell in any way.

"The consequence of this advice not being followed is that we will have to close down visiting again over the Christmas and new year period.

"We really do not want to do that as we know how important visiting is to patients and their loved ones, especially at this time of year."

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