A Dartford hospital introduced restrictions on visitors a day before Covid cases reached record levels in England.

Darent Valley Hospital began limiting visiting on Monday (December 27) amid concerns over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Patients are allowed only one named visitor per day, who can stay for an hour.

They must pre-book, provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test in the 24 hours prior to visiting and wear a face mask or visor.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: “Where possible we would ask you to consider if your relative needs a visit every day and if a mix of face-to-face and telephone or video virtual visiting would work for you and your loved one.

“Please note: A pragmatic, flexible approach to visiting will continue to be taken for our most vulnerable patients and their carer.

“We ask you to continue to support us, your adherence to our recommendations and guidance will really make all the difference.”

Similar restrictions on visiting were announced by Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust yesterday, applying to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and University Hospital Lewisham, which came into force this morning (December 29).

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

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.

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.