Visitor numbers at hospital restricted amid flu fears

VISITOR numbers at The Royal London hospital are being tightly controlled to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Each patient at the Whitechapel Road hospital is being allowed a maximum of two visitors at set times amid fears that swine flu and other seasonal flus are spreading quickly.

A leading East End professor last week warned that a flu epidemic could break out.

Professor John Oxford, of Bart’s and the Royal London Hospital trust, said children could be especially at risk.

He warned: “Younger people are vulnerable because they haven’t seen this virus before – but they are more resilient.”

The last epidemic – the term used when there are at least 200 cases per 100,000 people – was recorded in 2000.

The warnings have led to health chiefs tightly imposing restrictions on who can and cannot enter wards.

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No under 18s are allowed to enter wards at all at present.

Nurses have been told to scrap the flexible approach they usually give to visitor numbers and strictly restrict it to two.

Visitors with flu symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea are being told to keep away.

Nurses are also enforcing strict hand hygiene rules, reminding visitors to use the alcohol dispensers.

Some experts have predicted flu cases could rise as children go back to school this week.

Advice to those who think they may have flu is to keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and stay away from hospital unless their conditions drastically deteriorates.

They should speak to their GP or NHS Direct instead.