VISITORS have been banned from Fryatt Hospital as staff tackle surging numbers of patients with Covid-19.

Visiting is being suspended in all hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust from tomorrow.

Health bosses say it is due to the high number of Covid-19 infections in the community and increasing number of patients with the virus in the trust’s hospitals.

The new restrictions will affect Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital, in Harwich.

However, there are some exemptions and visiting will still be supported for end of life care, parents of children, maternity and those in formal caring roles for patients with, for example, learning disabilities or severe dementia.

Read more: Essex hospital bosses launch probe into NHS staff picture ‘making light of Covid-19’

ESNEFT states there will be no changes in these areas.

Giles Thorpe, chief nurse at the trust, said: “Once again, this has been a very tough decision to make. We understand how important visiting is to our patients and their families and friends, but we must do everything we can to keep everyone safe in our hospitals.

“We have been keeping a close eye on community Covid-19 infection rates and the number of people in our hospitals with the virus and this is action we really need to take now.

“One of the ways we can keep our staff and patients safe is to reduce the footfall on our sites, but we will keep the policy under review so we can reintroduce visiting again as quickly and as safely as we can.”

Pre-booked visiting slots will be honoured for the remainder of today, with the trust wide suspension of visiting then coming into effect tomorrow.

ESNEFT says the situation will be kept under “regular review, in line with hospital admissions and community Covid-19 infection rates”.

It stated a decision will then be made about whether to continue with the suspension or return to a restricted visiting policy.

Mr Thorpe added: “We’d like to thank everyone in our communities for their support and understanding as we implement this change to our visiting policy once again.

“We appreciate your patience and will make changes as quickly as we can.”