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Hawke’s Bay Hospital is urging visitors and relatives of patients to stay away if they are unwell.

The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer John Gommans said there was a lot of flu like illness, along with coughs and colds, circulating in the community so if people were feeling unwell they should not visit friends or relatives in hospital.

"We have some very vulnerable patients in hospital whose immune systems aren’t very good so if anyone is feeling generally unwell, has a sore throat, a cough or a temperature it is best to stay away from visiting family or friends in hospital," Dr Gommans said.

Hawke’s Bay has seen a significant increase in flu like illness in the community, and it isn’t too late to have the influenza vaccine, which is free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five years who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness. People with Downs syndrome and those with cochlear implants were now eligible for the vaccine. The vaccine programme has been extended until the end of August.

Tips to avoid catching the flu

If you feel unwell you can help reduce the spread of the virus by:

- Staying at home if you are unwell.

- Covering your cough or sneeze using disposable tissues.

- Regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and then dry your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel.

- Contact your GP or local medical centre to get the influenza vaccine.

- Further information on general hygiene and influenza can be found at: 0800 Immune (0800 466 863) or Healthline on 0800 611 116.

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