Hospital in English tourist town stops taking patients due to COVID spike

LONDON (Reuters) – A hospital in southwest England has temporarily stopped admitting new patients, including to its emergency department, because of a high number of coronavirus cases, it said on Monday.

Britain, Europe’s worst-hit country with some 43,000 deaths from COVID-19, is in the process of gradually easing social distancing measures and scientists are closely monitoring data on new infections.

Weston General Hospital, in the popular seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, said the suspension of admissions was a precautionary measure to maintain patient and staff safety.

“We currently have a high number of patients with COVID-19,” said William Oldfield, medical director of the local health body that runs the hospital, in a statement on its website.

“This is a clinically-led decision.”

Oldfield said the vast majority of the COVID-19 patients likely had the virus before admission, as opposed to being infected inside the hospital. He did not give numbers or say anything about what might have caused the surge in cases.

Authorities have, in some parts, reprimanded Britons for heading to open spaces including beaches during sunny spring weather in numbers that endanger social distancing rules.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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