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Novant and others restricting visitors due to flu

Novant Health said Thursday it is restricting visitor access to its hospitals because of the spread of the flu.

Carolinas HealthCare System, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Cone Health also announced restrictions.

Starting Friday, Novant Health will ask that visitors 12 and younger not come to its hospitals.

Also, people age 13 or older who have a runny nose, sore throat, fever or cough are encouraged not to visit patients.

The announcement came as state health officials reported four new flu deaths, raising the death toll for the 2017-18 flu season to 26.

And local media outlets reported Thursday that Carmel Christian School in Matthews canceled classes for Thursday and today after reports of a flu-like outbreak that has affected more than 160 students.

Carmel Christian School serves children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Tim Wishon, administrator for Carmel Baptist Church, which operates the school, said a company responsible for cleaning the school will spray a disinfecting mist throughout the building, including classrooms, restrooms and the school office.

Wishon said the school is also asking parents to make sure their children are fever-free for 48 hours before sending them back to school.

“We want to share the gospel, but we don’t want to share the flu,” Wishon said.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist, said last week there has been a significant increase in flu and flu-like illness in both adults and children over the past two weeks.

“While it looks like the circulating virus is covered by this year’s flu shot, very young children, older adults and those with other medical conditions may not see total protection from the shot,” Ohl told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Overall so far, the season seems to be similar to the last couple of years, but it’s a little early to tell, since we usually see cases into March.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, headaches and pain, cough or sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Children will be allowed to visit under special circumstances, such as a dying family member.

The ban on young visitors includes Rowan Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center, Presbyterian Medical Center and more.

All the medical systems agreed to begin restricting children on Friday to avoid confusion.

Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast and Carolinas Rehabilitiation-Northeast are also affected.

The best way to prevent the spread of the flu is to wash hands frequently with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

People with the flu should stay home and avoid contact with others. Most people will not need medical care and should drink fluids and take something to reduce minor pain or fever.

Wake Forest Baptist locations in Lexington, Davie County, Wilkes County and Winston-Salem also are restricting visitors.

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