King's Lynn hospital now caring for five patients with coronavirus
The number of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus and are being cared for at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has risen to five, officials have confirmed this afternoon.
The hospital, which had said on Saturday that it had identified three patients with Covid-19, gave the latest update after briefings to staff and stakeholders earlier today.
Officials also said they are now prioritising cancer and clinically urgent patients, while non-urgent outpatient appointments will be carried out by phone.
QEH Chief Nurse Libby McManus said an extensive 'contact tracing' exercise is now under way to trace anyone who might have had close (face to face) contact with the patients who have now tested positive for Covid-19, including patients, their relatives and staff.
She said: “Close contacts to the patients concerned will be given health advice about symptoms and what to do if they become unwell in the 14 days after they had contact with the confirmed case. This tried and tested method will ensure that any risk to them is minimised and the wider public is protected.
“In light of the new advice on social distancing – notably our patients being advised not to use public transport unless strictly necessary and to avoid crowded areas – we are prioritising cancer and clinically urgent patients.
“This means all routine (non-urgent) outpatient appointments will be carried out by phone, where safe to do so, and patients should assume their appointments have been cancelled unless they hear from us otherwise.
“Only surgery relating to cancer or clinically-urgent cases will go ahead as planned. We will rearrange operations as soon as possible and apologise to patients for any inconvenience or distress this causes."
Visiting restrictions, which were announced on Saturday, remain in place at the QEH, with exceptions including visitors to Children’s Wards, Maternity and Neonates and relatives and friends visiting patients who are approaching end of life.
Ward managers have been asked to use their discretion when giving access to visitors.
“Based on current evidence, COVID-19 presents with flu-like symptoms including a new and continuous cough and/or a high temperature," Ms McManus added.
“To protect yourself, please be scrupulous with your hygiene and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and use and then bin tissues if you cough or sneeze.
"Thorough hand washing will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you have to come into hospital, please use the hand wash basins in the main entrance and hand gel. Protect yourself, others and the NHS.”
More by this authorRebekah Chilvers