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'The pandemic is not over': King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital to maintain mask rules and visitor limits beyond 'Freedom Day'

Visiting restrictions will remain in place at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, even after the final lifting of lockdown restrictions next week.

Officials at the Gayton Road site say they are following the stance of other hospitals in the region, though they say restrictions will be kept under review.

At present, most inpatients are allowed one nominated visitor, who can spend up to an hour a day at the QEH.

Staff on the ward at the QEH
Staff on the ward at the QEH

The limit does not apply to visitors accompanying a child or a vulnerable patient with learning disabilities, autism or dementia, nor to patients who are critically ill or receiving end-of-life care.

The trust has now confirmed that it will maintain current visiting limits beyond next Monday, July 19.

On Monday, the Government confirmed its intention to lift all remaining legal requirements relating to the pandemic from that date.

The hospital has also confirmed that visitors will still be required to wear face coverings and provide their details for test and trace purposes after next Monday.

Alice Webster, the QEH's chief nurse, said today: “There is optimism as the country approaches its final stage of easing restrictions on 19 July.

“However, the pandemic is not over and in line with other hospitals in the region, QEH is taking this next step very carefully.

“The safety of our patients, their families and our staff is our top priority and we are appealing to visitors to respect our rules.

“We will continue to regularly review these measures which are in place to protect everybody.”

The Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group has now followed the QEH's announcement and confirmed masks will still be required in GP surgeries.

Its chairman, Dr Anoop Desai, said: “The virus has not gone away and case numbers have risen due to the spread of the Delta variant.

“Wearing a face covering is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection, proving to be particularly useful in busy or crowded indoor spaces.

“We appreciate it can be frustrating but it’s important to understand we do see some very sick and vulnerable patients, some of whom are not able to have the COVID-19 vaccination due to their conditions.

“By continuing to take reasonable and sensible measures against the virus we are helping to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and providing patients with greater reassurance.”

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