BOSSES at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have banned visitors from all of its hospitals in a bid to protect patients and staff from coronavirus.

The suspension, which comes into effect immediately, applies to everyone except those who are deemed to be "essential" visitors, such as relatives of those receiving end-of-life care – and, even then, only one family member will be allowed in.

Other exceptions being made under the essential visitors rule are:

One birthing partner, during labour, who must remain within the maternity area at all times

Parents of children who are inpatients or attending an outpatient appointment

One person to support someone with a mental health issue such as dementia, a learning disability or autism where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed

Arrangements for people in these categories to visit should be made through the nurse in charge in the ward.

Only one visitor can attend at any given time and no children are permitted to visit.

Health chiefs have also stressed that all visitors must use hand sanitiser when entering and leaving clinical areas and must not visit if they are experiencing a persistent cough, fever or flu-like symptoms.

Essential visitors at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, in Glasgow, will be greeted by volunteers with hand sanitiser.

Volunteers will also encourage those in the main atrium and food areas to practice 'social distancing' measures.

Angela O'Neill, deputy nurse director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "In these extraordinary circumstances, we have made the decision to suspend all visiting from our hospitals. This is to protect our patients, staff and public from Covid-19.

"We understand this will be difficult. Visitors are normally warmly welcomed into our hospitals but our main priority now is to keep everyone safe.

“We want to thank everyone for their understanding and co-operation.

"Essential visitors, like birthing partners, parents of children and those visiting a family member receiving end-of-life care, will continue to be allowed – but only one visitor at any given time.

"If you are in the essential group of visitors, please speak to the nurse in charge to arrange.”