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Belfast Trust considering cutting hospital visiting hours due to rising Covid cases

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Health officials are are believed to be discussing the possibility of cutting visiting hours at Belfast hospitals.

Health officials are are believed to be discussing the possibility of cutting visiting hours at Belfast hospitals.

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Health officials are are believed to be discussing the possibility of cutting visiting hours at Belfast hospitals.

Visiting hours could be cut within the Belfast Trust as a result of rising Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland, it is understood.

While a spokesperson from the Trust did not make any comment, it is believed officials are beginning to discuss the matter internally.

It comes as it is also understood as many as 600 health staff are currently off work as a result of Covid-19.

Visiting at the Trust’s hospitals was curtailed during the pandemic, with facilities offering just one-face-to-face visit per week, by one person.

However, this was relaxed as restrictions across the province have eased in recent months.

According to a source in the Trust, any decision for making the change would be taken by the Department of Health.

Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland have risen in recent months and earlier in June the Public Health Agency warned the virus “hasn’t gone away” and is being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

The last ONS weekly infection survey shows that for the week ending June 11, 2.34% of the population in Northern Ireland was infected with one of the Covid variants.

The latest Covid-19 stats from Friday show there have been 1,819 positive cases in the last seven days. Meanwhile, there are currently 205 Covid inpatients in Northern Ireland hospitals.

Seven deaths linked to Covid-19 have been recorded in the past week and two people are currently in intensive care beds as a result of the virus.

Meanwhile, the Irish Government look set to bring back mandatory mask wearing in some settings, with the cabinet to sign off new legislation.

The move is being described as precautionary and no settings have been earmarked for the return of legally required face coverings.

However, it is the first significant move in the Republic of Ireland’s response to Covid for a number of months and comes at a time of rising cases numbers and hospitalisations down south.

The Department of Health has been approached for comment.


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