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Wimmera Health Care Group has applied heavy restrictions on hospital visits as the threat of coronavirus to the region draws closer.

Limitations include two visitors per patient and visiting hours are daily between 5-7pm. The main entrance is being monitored to enforce the restrictions and all other entrances have been shut down.

All WHCG aged care facilities will be closed to all visitors from the public from Monday. Children under 16 years of age will not be allowed to enter either campus.

WHCG CEO Catherine Morley said the restrictions were needed to help keep patients and team members as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This decision is going to be tough on a lot of people who have loved ones in care right now,” Ms Morley said.

“But we have a duty of care to keep the community as safe as we possibly can through what is going to be a very difficult period,” she said.

“We are relying on the Department of Health and Human Services as our sole source of accurate information and we will support our Infection Control team to make the best decisions for our community.

Ms Morley said there would be minimal flexibility to the restrictions.

“Where family members have been called in to meet with their doctor or there are extreme circumstances, we will allow some flexibility,” she said.

“But it is crucial that restrictions are adhered to.

“We are going to do whatever we can to lessen the spread of infection because that’s how we will save lives and keep as many people from getting sick as possible.

WHCG opened a COVID-19 assessment clinic on Thursday and several people were assessed on the first day. The Wimmera is yet to have a confirmed coronavirus case but Ms Morley said it was only a matter of time before that would change.

“It’s inevitable but what’s reassuring for us is the knowledge that we have planned and prepared as well as we possibly could and we are all up to the challenge.”

The Arapiles building will remain open to allied health patients for the time being.

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