VISITORS to Wimmera Base Hospital will need to wear masks from today, and the Wimmera Health Care Group says it will soon impose visitor limits.
A spokesman said the decision had been made following a meeting of the leadership group and infection control team members on Tuesday morning.
The organisation will have new visitor limits introduced by Thursday.
It follows Ararat's health service making the decision to make masks mandatory, and a further 270 cases of coronavirus being recorded across Victoria on Tuesday.
"We are definitely going to be going to the facemasks stage straight away, but we are actually going to be taking it further," the WHCG spokesman said.
"We will provide masks at the door (at the Horsham and Dimboola campuses). They will be single use, but we are going to have to look at making some reusable masks. The Department of Health has put out a template for design to make them.
"We don't really want people coming in wearing masks because we can't trust they've put them on the right way. We will provide instructions on how to put the masks on and how to take it off, because people can contaminate themselves in not doing the procedure properly."
In March, the healthcare group limited visitors to its Horsham and Dimboola campuses to two people per patient, and tightened visiting hours to 5-7pm daily. Children under 16 years of age were also not allowed.
The current limit one person per patient.
The spokesman said visitor restrictions would be implemented again later in the week, and be more strict this time.
"It's more serious now than it was in March," he said. "Back then we knew where the virus was and where it was spreading, now it's in the community statewide. Because it's had a chance to spread through the state we don't know where the virus could be.
"People need to maintain social distancing, as though the virus is in the community. With the virus so widespread in metropolitan areas, there is the probability it will make its way to the community."
Since Tuesday, the East Grampians Health Service has made mask wearing mandatory but will provide single use masks when entering the health service if visitors do not have their own.
In a statement on its social media channels on Monday night, the service said: "For those who cannot wear a mask, a face shield will be provided. Visitors should wear a mask... until they exit the health service."
Chief executive Andrew Freeman said the new policy based on the advice from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton.
"Its further protection for our most vulnerable members of the community... and putting good practices in place," Mr Freeman said.
"Compliance is wonderful; EGHS supplies disposable masks at the main entrance ... and everyone has embraced it.
"I have even noticed some people in the Ararat wearing masks as they move through the community."
Mr Freeman said the health service would allow visitors from Melbourne see loved ones under exceptional circumstances.
"We will allow visitors on compassionate grounds, for example, if the patient is in palliative care," he said.
"Obviously, we would have all the precautions in place to protect our most vulnerable."
The EGHS also announced on Tuesday it would progressively scale back its elective surgery to 75 per cent of capacity.
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