COLCHESTER Hospital has confirmed it has allocated space to care for patients who contract coronavirus.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust confirmed measures are in place to prepare and plan for patients.

A spokeswoman said: “Much work is going on throughout our Trust to prepare and plan care for all the patients who may need it during the coronavirus outbreak.

“There will be plans in place for areas to care for people who are poorly perhaps because of coronavirus.

“As the Chief Medical Officer has warned NHS services will come under pressure as the outbreak spreads more widely and so it is only right we are preparing a number of practical solutions to respond.

“We are following all national and regional guidance and have had a fantastic response from staff and volunteers so patients can get the care they need.

“This remains the top priority for our hardworking staff at ESNEFT and advice will continue to be updated and shared as we receive it.”

The trust also announced it is making changes to visitors at Colchester Hospital to protect patients.

Patients will now only be allowed one visitor per adult at a time or two parents or responsible carers per child patient.

Only a partner and birthing partner will be allowed per woman in labour.

Only parents of babies will be allowed for neonatal visiting and no children under 12 will be allowed on site without prior agreement of the nurse in charge.

The trust is also continuing to advise that anyone with a continuous cough or temperature higher than 37.8 degrees to self-isolate at home and to not enter the buildings.

The Care Quality Commission has also announced it is suspending routine inspections for hospital, GP surgeries and care homes.

Chief executive Ian Trenholm said: “Our primary objectives during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic will be to keep people safe during a period of unprecedented pressure on the health and care system.”

A senior paramedic has written a letter to East of England Ambulance Trust bosses saying there has been a “total lack of adequate and sustainable training”.

Jeff Pitman, wrote the letter on behalf of trade union Unison saying the trust has been “very slow” to provide adequate personal protective equipment to ambulance crews.

He said: “I am receiving calls informing me crews have been sent to patients because they were suffering signs and symptoms of C-19.

“But this crucial information is not apparently being passed to the crews.

“This raises a whole bucket load of issues because the crew who are potentially infected are expected to attend to other patients before then going home and potentially infecting their own family members.”

Tollgate Surgery in Stanway was also forced to close yesterday due to staff shortages.