BARNSLEY Hospital bosses have suspended all non-essential visiting due to ‘extreme circumstances’ after Covid cases more than doubled on site in less than a month.

In February, the hospital opened once again in a managed manner for residents to attend their-loved ones.

However, last week bosses confirmed visiting has been suspended after the number of patients in the hospital with Covid-19 more than doubled in less than a month.

There are currently 73 patients in the hospital with the virus - on February 7, there was 30.

A hospital spokesperson said: “The Trust has taken this difficult and important decision to protect our most vulnerable patients we understand this can be upsetting for patients and families. “However, the restrictions are in place to reduce the number of people on wards and departments.

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“This is to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19, particularly the Omicron and BA2 variants, which we know are much more infectious and transmittable.”

Hospital bosses have also asked patients to arrive to their appointments alone to ensure the footfall on site falls, and to also to avoid using public transport so transmission is at a minimum.

“Until further notice, when in the hospital, visitors must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times unless they have an exemption,” a spokesperson added.

“Please expect staff and volunteers to ask you to wear a mask if they see you without one.

“Some charities have provided lanyards to those who are exempt from wearing face coverings.

“We do not ask children under the age of 11 to wear face coverings.

“Wherever possible outpatients and visitors should arrange to be driven to and from the hospital by a member of their household to minimise the risk of exposure to others, so avoid using public transport if you can.”

Physical visiting is permitted is certain situations such as for patients who are receiving end-of-life care and for vulnerable patients - though this is at the discretion of the nurse in charge.

Due to the new restrictions the time of visits may be reduced and the visitor should be the same on each occasion - where this is not possible they should be from the same household.

Virtual visiting is offered for all inpatients who would like it to ensure they can have regular contact with friends and family.

“Proactive communication about a patient’s care usually takes place face-to-face with a patient’s family or carers during visits,” the hospital added.

“This has not always been possible during the Covid pandemic, so we currently provide this communication over the phone.

“On admission to the ward, the nurse caring for the patient will record who will be their nominated point of contact.

“This person will receive telephone calls from the ward about the patient’s care.”