Two south east London hospitals have barred visitors for adult inpatients other than in “exceptional circumstances” due to rising Covid cases.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust's new restrictions, applying to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and University Hospital Lewisham, came into force from 9am (December 29).

A limited number of inpatients will still be allowed visitors, such as pregnant women, children, those receiving end-of-life care, patients in critical care, and patients with special needs.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but – under the current circumstances – we do need to do everything we can to keep patients, staff and visitors safe.

“We are keeping the situation under regular review and we will relax the visiting arrangements as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We are looking at additional ways of ensuring that patients can stay in touch with their relatives and carers. This will include arranging for additional telephone and video calls where possible.”

All visitors are required to wear a face covering, follow social distancing guidance, and show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within the last 24 hours to be able to enter.

Pregnant women are allowed to bring one birthing partner with them when in labour and babies in the intensive care ward can be visited by both parents at any time.

Both parents are also able to visit children who are inpatients on paediatric wards.

Patients receiving end-of-life care can have up to four visitors, all of whom must wear personal protective equipment, while patients in critical care can only have visitors in “exceptional circumstances” as decided by the teams caring for them.

Exceptions will also be made for patients with dementia, learning disabilities or mental health needs, patients “in distress” or those who require an interpreter, and those whose health is “deteriorating due to isolation”.

Government figures showed there were a record 129,471 lab-confirmed cases in the UK as of 9am Tuesday – although the data was incomplete due to the Christmas holidays with no figures for Scotland or Northern Ireland.

In England, there were 9,546 people were in hospital with the disease – up 38% from a week earlier and the highest total since the beginning of March.

The figures come after the Government said there would be no new restrictions in England before the new year – putting it at odds with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which have all put in place additional post-Christmas controls.

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