Visiting restrictions have been introduced in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside.
They have been in effect at the premises, all run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, since 9am today.
The move is in response to rising rates of norovirus in the area – including in schools and care homes.
It is hoped that by acting before the virus reaches hospitals in critical numbers a total ban on visitors – which happened last winter – can be avoided.
The trust’s interim executive director of nursing and midwifery Marion Dickson said:
The restrictions are mean no children under 12-years-old can visit at any time and visiting is restricted on all inpatient wards to between 2-3pm and 6.30-7.30pm.
In the birthing centre/maternity units – outside of those hours above – visiting is restricted to birthing partners only.
In paediatrics – also outside of those above – visiting is restricted to parents and legal guardians only.
Only one visitor per patient is permitted in the emergency department or ambulatory care at any time.
On all wards no more than two visitors can visit per patient on the ward. Anyone visiting a patient in receipt of palliative/ end of life care on one of a mental health ward can continue to visit as normal but has been asked to contact the ward beforehand.
The trust has also asked that only essential visits be made.
The restrictions affect Alnwick Infirmary, Berwick Infirmary, Blyth Community Hospital, Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital, Hexham General Hospital, North Tyneside General Hospital, The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital The Whalton Unit in Morpeth and Wansbeck General Hospital.