Children under 16 are now not allowed to visit Hawke's Bay Hospital as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) outbreak continues.
Hawke's Bay DHB chief medical and dental officer Dr Robin Whyman said children under 16 won't be allowed to visit unless there were exceptional circumstances or "a clear medical need".
The visitor policy update is to stop healthy children from catching RSV from people in hospital, he said.
There is also a no-visitor policy in place for the hospital's ward A1 where there were 24 adults with RSV on Monday.
As of midday Monday, there were 12 children in the children's ward, but as numbers are continually changing this was expected to increase by the end of the day, a DHB spokesperson said.
There were also one child and one adult in ICU.
The children's ward, special care baby unit (SCBU), maternity units at Hawke's Bay Hospital and Wairoa also remain closed to visitors.
Whyman said there has been a continued and steady increase of adults with RSV needing hospital care over the past week and the DHB expects to see this continue for at least another week.
Four elective surgeries were postponed on Monday following one elective surgery postponement on Friday, some minor day surgery cases postponed last Thursday due to staff sickness, six elective surgeries postponed last Wednesday and eight last Tuesday.
Staffing at the hospital has been affected with all casual staff called in.
"We are doing our best to postpone as few electives as possible and are reviewing the situation daily," Whyman said.
He said people who are sick and progressively getting worse should get medical help early to prevent hospital admission.
Children should be kept warm and at home away from other children if they are sick and children who have younger or baby siblings at home should be kept away from early childhood centres and kōhanga reo, if possible.
"The hand-washing, self-isolation and social distancing families followed so well during last year's Covid-19 lockdown are a good guide to the care we need to control this RSV outbreak," he said.
Signs of when to seek medical attention urgently in children:
· Audible wheezing sounds
· Breathing very fast
· Laboured breathing — the ribs seem to suck inward when the child breathes in
· Seems very unwell
· Sluggish or lethargic.
Hawke's Bay Hospital and Wairoa Hospital current visitor policy: No children under 16 can visit.
No visitors will be allowed in:
· Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)
· Ata Rangi (maternity birthing unit, Hawke's Bay Hospital)
· Waioha (primary birthing unit, Hawke's Bay Hospital)
· Wairoa Maternity Unit
· Children's Ward Hawke's Bay Hospital
· Ward A1
Parents/guardians are exempt from the restrictions
· Emergency Department is limited to 1 support person per patient
· Intensive Care Unit (ICU) visiting is limited to 2 visitors per patient once a day only.