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Coronavirus Q&A: How does end of hospital visits affect me and will I still have surgery?

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Visitors are no longer allowed other than in exceptional cases in Northern Ireland hospitals (stock image)

Visitors are no longer allowed other than in exceptional cases in Northern Ireland hospitals (stock image)

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Visitors are no longer allowed other than in exceptional cases in Northern Ireland hospitals (stock image)

General hospital visiting has been stopped in Northern Ireland as part of new health service plans to deal with the surge in Covid-19 cases.

In new plans set out by the Department of Health, there will only be very limited exceptions, with the aim to prioritise patient and staff care as well as reconfiguring hospital services.

How do the plans affect new and existing patients?

I am pregnant - can I be accompanied by my partner or have visitors?

A person in labour can be accompanied by one birthing partner, according to the new guidelines. However, you can not be accompanied during your scans. No visitors are permitted in ante-natal or post-natal ward areas.

My child has been admitted to hospital, can I stay with them?

Any children admitted can be accompanied by one parent or carer at a time, the Department of Health said.

Can children visit the hospital?

Children are no longer allowed visit any hospital.

What can I wear when visiting the hospital?

Arms must be bare below the elbow, the regulations say. No jewellery is permitted other than a flat wedding band.

My loved one is receiving end-of-life care or is in a high dependency unit or intensive care - can I visit?

One visitor is permitted but timing and duration must be agreed with the ward sister or charge nurse - normally for a maximum of one hour.

The Department of Health has recommended that family and friends use smart devices to have phone and video calls with patients instead over the wifi available at all sites.

I am in hospital for an issue other than Covid-19 - when will I be discharged?

Under new regulations, patients who are medically fit enough will be discharged as soon as possible and will be sent home to be cared for by family.

Will I still be operated upon in the current situation?

Mark Taylor from the Royal College of Surgeons told the Belfast Telegraph procedures may change but no patient will be put at risk.

"Technical and managerial aspects of surgery will change to minimise the risk of contamination of healthcare workers and their patients as a result of aerosol particles.

"Patients with appendicitis may be treated by antibiotics rather than surgery. The patient who presents with a very inflamed gallbladder, may have a tube placed by the x-ray doctors into the gallbladder to drain it rather than the standard way of carrying out a laparoscopic operation to remove it.

"The use of diagnostic camera tests for evaluation of the stomach and colon will be restricted and priority given depending on clinical need.

"We are prepared to face challenges that we never believed we would face in our medical careers. The training involved in becoming a doctor, a nurse or an allied health professional is based on achieving the very best, if not the perfect outcome. And as we move ahead, we will continue to do our very best for every patient we see."

Will testing for coronavirus increase in Northern Ireland?

Testing is expected to increase in Northern Ireland from Monday, with 1100 tests to be carried out daily.

Queen's University virologist Ultan Powers told the BBC staying inside is as important as testing.

"My concern is that in terms of the 60% of individuals who are non symptomatic or mildly symptomatic and in terms of those individuals, if we don't do a mass community based screening we will never be able to pick up those people and we will never be able to control the virus transmitting, unless people stay at home," he said.

Belfast Telegraph