VISITING restrictions have been placed on patients in local hospitals as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
On Monday, Hunter New England Health (HNEH) confirmed an additional three cases of COVID-19 across the health district, in the latest 24-hour testing period.
The HNEH district's tally of confirmed cases now stands at 248.
Currently, 11 COVID-19 patients are being cared for in hospitals across the HNEH area, including five in intensive care units.
The health district also confirmed 88 patients have recovered so far from COVID-19.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, HNEH said it was introducing new restrictions on visitors at local hospitals and clinics.
"For the safety of our patients, staff and the general community, over the past weeks we have taken steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading by changing our guidelines on visits to hospitals and inpatient facilities," a spokesperson said on Monday.
HNEH said the updated guidelines meant no visitors or support persons were allowed in residential aged care facilities; maternity outpatient or clinic appointments; and outpatient appointments and clinics, except in cases where a support person is essential for the elderly or those with a disability.
Visitor limitations are now in place across the district with one support person or guardian allowed in all wards; and one nominated support person will be allowed in intensive care and end of life care units.
In maternity birthing and delivery, as well in maternity postnatal and gynaecology admissions, one nominated support person will be allowed for the duration of the woman's admission.
In paediatric inpatient and outpatient care, one parent or guardian will be allowed for the duration of the admission or appointment.
"While it is understood this may cause concern with some family members, we need to ensure we have done everything possible to protect our patients and staff by asking everyone to follow these guidelines until further notice," a spokesperson said.
HNEH said the decisions "will be managed on a case-by-case basis by the treating team".
"HNE Health acknowledges there may be a need for exceptions under compassionate grounds, for example, those who are elderly and frail, have a disability, or are receiving end of life care," a spokesperson said.