GREENVILLE — In an attempt to reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses, hospitals in the Upstate are asking that children under 18 not visit patients until further notice.
The hospitals include AnMed Health in Anderson, Baptist Easley, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Cannon Memorial Hospital in Pickens, Greenville Health System and County Memorial Hospital.
The flu has claimed 30 lives around the state since Sept. 29, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
We are monitoring the spread of influenza activity in the Upstate and across South Carolina, said Dr. Melissa Overman, medical director of DHECs Upstate region.
Reports of cases and hospitalizations have been rising, further emphasizing the need for continued efforts to vaccinate against this serious illness, as well as take other preventive steps such as covering your cough with your sleeve or a tissue, stay home if you are sick, and wash your hands often with soap and water.
In the week ending Jan. 11, 162 people were hospitalized with flu and eight people died statewide, bringing the total hospitalized to 1,059 and the total deaths to 30, according to DHEC.
The restriction -- which also extends to anyone with symptoms of the flu or another respiratory illness -- is voluntary, and is designed to protect both patients and children from becoming sick, officials said.
In the case of a seriously ill patient whose loved ones need to visit, officials ask that face masks be worn and hands be washed frequently. And all visitors are asked to use hand sanitizer before and after visiting a patients room. Masks and hand sanitizers are available at the hospitals.
I would like to commend these Upstate hospitals for working together to take proactive steps for the prevention of exposure and spread of the influenza virus in their respective facilities and the promotion of influenza prevention measures like immunization and proper hand hygiene in the communities they each serve, said Dr. Rick Foster, senior vice president for quality and patient safety with the South Carolina Hospital Association.
Officials also recommend that anyone who hasnt gotten a flu shot do so.
For information on flu clinics, go to http://www.scdhec.gov/flu/clinic-options.htm