South West Healthcare has further tightened visitor restrictions to protect its patients, aged care residents, registered volunteers and workforce.
Chief executive officer Craig Fraser said the Warrnambool Base Hospital and the Camperdown Hospital would only allow one visitor per day per patient, and that one visit could only be made between 4pm and 7pm.
He said Merindah Lodge was now closed to visitors and no visitor to any facility was to be aged under 16 years .
The CEO said tightened precautions would provide further protection against the spread of coronavirus for patients, the vulnerable elderly, SWH staff and the general community.
"The maximum one visitor per day per patient is essential in doing everything we can to protect everyone," he said.
"It goes without saying, though, that while we must be vigilant we must also continue to be compassionate. For patients in our palliative care, pediatric and midwifery units, other arrangements, where possible, will be individually made.
"I really appreciate the understanding of our consumers and their families and recognise this is difficult. We'll work with them to try and connect them to loved ones with phones and video links."
Mr Fraser said he wanted to reinforce that anyone feeling unwell should not enter any of our SWH facilities as a visitor.
"This includes if you have a cold or a runny nose, for example. I also want to assure our communities that while a lot of our day, every day now, is being spent on addressing coronavirus developments we will not fail to continue our focus on caring for the patients we already have," he said.
"Our quality patient care will not be compromised."
Mr Fraser said his workforce was doing an exemplary job during the testing times.
He said SWH's respiratory assessment clinic was experiencing increased demand from local people returning from overseas.
"As days go by, it is likely there will be more confirmed cases of coronavirus here in our communities," he said.
"We need everyone to be responsible. Social distancing is critical and hand hygiene is critical. Lives are depending on it and every single person has a pivotal role to play.
"I also want to thank and compliment the schools for their amazing job in recent weeks including reminding children that are home not to gather in groups.
"Our younger generation could unwittingly be moving the virus across groups, so unfortunately, they too have to limit contact. The actions of local councils will also hold us in good stead by limiting tourists into our region and limiting further exposures."
Mr Fraser said the team at SWH continued to stay positive, calm, objective and committed to delivering high quality care and he thanks their families and loved ones for supporting and assisting them to continue providing for our communities.
He said any person returning from overseas, or anyone who has had contact with someone recently returned from overseas must phone before visiting any emergency department, urgent care centre of GP clinic.
From 9pm last Friday, any Australian returning from any country outside Australia is now considered at risk and required to self-isolate for 14 days.
For other up-to-date information and advice please go to the Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus website at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus or call its Hotline on 1800 675 398.
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