In response to flu and respiratory virus season activity increasing, Banner Health has implemented visitor restrictions at all of its hospitals, effective today.

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The following restrictions are being placed at all Banner Health hospitals:

• Restricting visitors if they have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.

• All visitors over the age of 2 are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth for the duration of their visit

• Restricting visitors under the age of 13. Siblings, who do not have cold and flu symptoms, may visit a new baby on the Obstetrics unit or Pediatric unit. That child may be screened for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.

• Children, including siblings will not be allowed to visit the NICU

• Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.

• Visitors are highly encouraged to wash or sanitize hands frequently while at the hospital to prevent getting the flu or potentially spreading any illness.

“While we understand visitor restrictions can be difficult, they are necessary to prevent the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses within our hospitals. We appreciate everyone’s help in keeping our patients safe,’’ said Joan Ivaska, senior director of infection prevention at Banner Health.

RSV, a seasonal respiratory virus common among young children, has arrived earlier than normal in Arizona with cases up more than 300 percent compared to a typical season.

Public health experts are also worried about this year’s flu season being more severe than normal.

Banner Health encourages everyone over the age of six months to receive the flu vaccine to protect themselves and others from influenza. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for protection to set in. Flu shots are available at Banner Health Urgent Care; most insurers will cover the vaccination.