NHS Highland has warned people not to visit sick family or friends in vulnerable settings amid rising flu cases and admissions.
The health board has seen a “significant increase” in the number of people being admitted to hospital with influenza, as cases have been on the rise across Scotland in recent weeks.
Flu has been classified at extraordinary levels reaching a five year high.
NHS Highland asked people to avoid visiting vulnerable relatives in hospitals and other health and social care settings if they have flu-like symptoms or are feeling under the weather.
Family members and friends are also being advised to reconsider whether “they really need to come in to visit people in hospital”.
It comes a week after Public Health Scotland (PHS) raised the incidence of influenza from “high” to “extraordinary” activity level.
PHS reported the number of patients in hospital who have tested positive for influenza so far this season is the highest its been since 2017.
“We are seeing an exceptionally large rise in cases of influenza in the community across Scotland,” Dr Adam Brown, consultant microbiologist with NHS Highland, said.
“There are also more cases of other respiratory illnesses such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), while Covid-19 is still circulating within our communities.
“These conditions can cause serious ill health, especially among more vulnerable people and we have seen this reflected in admissions to hospital.
“It is vital that we take actions that help control these infections and reduce the risk of spread. This is why we are asking everyone to think carefully before they come into hospital as a visitor,” he added.
NHS Highland has also issued general guidance to protect against the virus, which mimics pandemic-era advise – maintaining good hygiene, using tissues to cough or blow your nose, and wearing a mask as and when required.
It added that vaccination is the best way to control Covid-19 and flu, encouraging people who have been offered doses to take them as soon as possible.
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