AS cases have risen nationally new Covid-19 rules have come into force this week, slashing social gatherings to six in England.

But what are the rules for visiting a patient in hospital?

Stricter rules on visits

Although the rule of six has come into force, this does not mean six people could visit a patient.

As Covid-19 cases have increased, there is an updated message from the NHS that states: "To help stop the spread of coronavirus most hospitals have stopped or significantly limited visits.

"Check the hospital's website to find out what their advice is. You can search for hospital details if you're not sure what they are."

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For example a hospital may have stopped visits, but for the limited exceptions of:

For paediatric patients – a visit by one parent only

For patients nearing the end of their lives – two visitors only

For Patients with Dementia and Learning Difficulties - their carers may visit after discussing with the nurse in charge of the ward.

However this varies from hospital-to-hospital so people should check the 'visiting someone in hospital section' of nhs.uk, to search and find what an individual hospital's advice is.

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Face masks

Where visits are allowed, since June, patients and their visitors must wear face masks.

This rule also applies to hospital staff, and applies in all areas - though there are exceptions in hospitals with designated Covid secure areas.

If you or someone in your bubble have Covid symptoms

This might seem obvious, but it is stressed if you have Covid-19 symptoms you should not be visiting someone in hospital.

As the guidance states for everyone, you must self-isolate immediately if:

- you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)

- you've tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus

- you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive

- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive

- you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk

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