Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) in Cobourg, Ont., is rolling out more operational changes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve.

NHH is restricting all visitors within the hospital. Only visitors for palliative patients or the acutely ill will be permitted on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with the health-care team, as well the personal partner and coach/doula identified in advance by obstetrical patients.

Children (16 and under) and pets (personal support animals excepted) are strictly prohibited from visiting at this time.

The hospital stated anyone who is feeling unwell should not visit or accompany a patient to the hospital.

“While the global pandemic is changing how we operate, NHH continues to provide essential services,” said Linda Davis, president and CEO.

NHH will be actively screening anyone who comes to the hospital at all public entrances for symptoms and to support the visitor restrictions that are now in place.

The wing used by dialysis patients, cancer and supportive care services has been restricted to minimize traffic near those who are vulnerable.

All non-essential or elective services will be postponed in the next few days.

Hospital staff are using a priority assessment tool to focus efforts on essential work and postpone services or work that’s deemed non-essential.

Anyone who had a test or procedure booked at NHH will be notified by a staff member of any postponement.

The walk-in community mental health counselling clinic is temporarily closed to walk-in clients.

Phone support will continue on regular walk-in days (Tuesdays from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) by calling 905-377-7784 for walk-in support.

For individuals in mental health crisis, call Four County Crisis at 1-705-745-6484 or 1-866-995-9933, reach out to the community and social services helpline by dialling 211, or go to the closest emergency department.

Effective March 18, NHH’s Main Street Bistro will be closed to the public and open to staff only, with limited food options.

Communal patient dining in post-acute support services ceased following breakfast on March 17.

All patients will receive meals in their rooms.

External meetings and special events for NHH have been or will be cancelled until further notice.

A COVID-19 assessment centre has been operational since March 14. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The hospital reports that the number of patients visiting the centre is high.

It’s asking those who aren’t in an emergency situation to use the online tool on Ontario’s COVID-19 website.

“By following the directions of our public health experts and taking pre-emptive steps together to slow the spread of this virus and ‘bend the COVID-19’ curve, your hospital team is working to ensure that we will continue to be here for you and your family if and when you need us,” added Davis.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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