A health board has announced it is shutting down visiting for patients in the wards of three of its hospitals, in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.

NHS Tayside clinical and public health teams took the decision to suspend regular visiting for patients in wards in Ninewells Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary and the surgical wards in Stracathro. 

According to health bosses, the virus is "circulating widely" in the Tayside community with the current incidence rate of COVID-19 within Dundee higher than some Local Authority areas in the central belt.

In the past few weeks, the incidence rate across all areas of Tayside has continued to increase.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 20 'red wards' within Greater Glasgow & Clyde spark plea for public to stick to rules 

However, the health board feels it can protect patients, staff and the public by restricting visiting.

Currently, there are almost 50 patients with confirmed Covid-19 in Tayside hospitals along with a number of suspected cases and this number is increasing on a daily basis.  

Four wards across Tayside already have restricted visiting due to outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The new restrictions affect the following areas: 

  • Wards for adult patients in Ninewells Hospital 
  • All wards at Perth Royal Infirmary  
  • Surgical unit wards in Stracathro Hospital 

However, NHS Tayside has stated that visiting in these areas can continue in specific circumstances - including for patients receiving end-of-life care.

Anyone with a question about visiting should contact the senior charge nurse in the ward to discuss their individual situation.  

Patients should continue to attend hospital for outpatient clinic appointments and for planned procedures, but are asked to attend alone.

An exception exists for children and vulnerable adults, who can be accompanied by one person. 

The public can continue to visit Tayside Children’s Hospital, community hospitals, maternity and neonatal wards - where partners can continue to attend for births, scans and antenatal appointments - and mental health facilities, including Carseview Centre.

NHS Tayside’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Claire Pearce, said, “We understand that suspending visiting will impact on families and patients and we know that not being able to visit family members whilst they are in hospital is distressing for many people.

"However it is vital that we keep our patients, staff and the public safe. We hope everyone understands that we have made this difficult decision for these reasons.  

“In order to manage the number of patients with the virus, we are using our three acute hospitals flexibly with patients and staff moving between the sites. This means that we must restrict visiting in all three sites to help further reduce the number of people coming into our hospitals each day and help limit the spread of coronavirus. 

“We will continue to offer virtual visiting for patients using telephones, tablets and laptops to allow people to keep in touch with their loved ones.”   

NHS Tayside Interim Director of Public Health Dr Emma Fletcher, said, “I would like to remind everyone coming into hospital to wear a face covering and follow hand hygiene and hand washing advice.

"People should not visit or attend our hospitals if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. 

“To protect our loved ones, our staff and our hospitals, it is vitally important that we all follow Scottish Government guidance, especially in relation to F.A.C.T.S. 

“Everyone should take care to wear a face covering when indoors, on public transport or when physical distancing is difficult. We should avoid crowded places and clean our hands regularly. We should also keep a two metre distance from others and self-isolate and book a test if we show symptoms.”