THE Western Trust has imposed a temporary suspension on visiting at its hospitals amid mounting pressures and an increase in community transmission of COVID-19, with the restrictions to be reviewed today (Wednesday).
It introduced the measure last week, it said, "due to the continued pressures on our hospitals/care facilities and indicators that levels of COVID-19 transmission are rapidly rising across our community.".
The health body said the decision to suspend visiting on all sites and facilities within the Western Trust, including Altnagelvin Hospital, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex and South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, was necessary to protect patients, visitors and staff.
The suspension - applicable from midnight December 29 - was reviewed on December 31 and subsequently extended until today, January 5.
A spokesperson said: "The Western Heath and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) would like to thank the public for their cooperation in relation to the recent changes to its visiting arrangements.
"The support of the public helps us to provide safer care for patients in our hospitals and facilities
"Due to the continued pressures on our hospitals and the high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, visiting remains suspended across our hospital sites and facilities.
"This does not apply to birthing partners, for maternity arrangements."
The Trust said there were exceptional circumstances for visiting, with details available on its website.
"We would encourage the public to keep in contact with their loved ones via virtual visiting arrangements.
"A 'virtual visit' can be facilitated using a smartphone or tablet.
"Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.
"The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for everyone, however we continue to act in the best interest of our patients and the general public.
"We ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times."