Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) has imposed new visiting restrictions at two of its hospitals following a rise in Covid-19 cases.

The measures come into effect at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) and South Molton Community Hospital from 7pm on Thursday (October 29) and further restrict visiting to carers only and compassionate grounds.

NDHT said the changes will help protect vulnerable patients and staff.

The restrictions mean no visiting will be allowed at the two hospitals except for:

– If there are specific reasons of safety such as with dementia or a learning disability where anxiety would be significantly increased.

– Inpatients under the age of 18 years old and limited to one parent or guardian only, although both parents are permitted in the special care baby unit.

– At outpatient and diagnostic appointments where a patient may need emotional support they can be accompanied by one person from the same household or support bubble.

– A patient receiving end-of-life care can receive more than one visitor from the same household or support bubble within a 24 hour period.

A statement from NDHT said: “We appreciate how hard separation can be for families and patients and we have a number of measures in place to ensure contact is maintained.

“These include regular contact from staff to a designated family member, the use of iPads for ‘virtual visiting’ and our patient experience team can receive and pass on letters, drawings and cards from loved ones to patients.”

There are no changes to maternity services restrictions which have been in place since October 2

The statement added: “Even under these circumstances, people should not visit if they are displaying Covid-19 symptoms or should be self-isolating because they live with someone who has symptoms.

“We are also advising that people should also avoid travelling where possible, and should not travel to or from areas that have been categorised in the very high alert level.”