VISITORS to Colchester Hospital are being urged to wear face masks to protect patients after a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, wants visitors to wear masks from Wednesday this week.

The trust says the measure follows an increase in Covid case numbers inside hospitals.

Giles Thorpe, the trust’s chief nurse, said: “Sadly we have seen an increase in the number of patients who have Covid-19, so we are having to enhance infection prevention and control measures in our wards and departments.

“That is why we are asking visitors to do their bit again now and help stop the spread of Covid-19 in our hospitals by wearing a surgical face mask when they visit.

“We appreciate face masks are no longer required in many areas of our day to day lives, but our hospitals are not the same as a supermarket or a restaurant.

"Many of our patients are already extremely unwell and could be at higher risk of serious illness if they pick up Covid-19.

“As healthcare professionals it is our responsibility to keep them safe, and visitors can play their part in that too.”

Visitors must wear a surgical face mask during their visit and not a fabric face covering from home.

Giles added: “If you cannot wear a surgical face mask, we can offer you a visor as an alternative.

“Please speak to a member of our ward staff if you are unable to wear any form of face protection.

"They will be able to help you visit your loved one safely.

“We know how important visiting is for our patients and the people who care about them.

"That’s why we do not want to restrict our more open visiting policy, but I must ask that if you have Covid-19 symptoms, or you feel unwell in any way, please stay at home, and do not visit our hospitals.”

This guidance, which comes into effect from Wednesday, September 28, from 10am, applies to Colchester Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Aldeburgh Hospital, Felixstowe Hospital, Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich, Clacton Hospital and Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.

It covers all general adult wards, including maternity, and children’s wards.