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Raging flu causes Mountain States, Wellmont to engage restrictions

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The number of flu cases in the Tri Cities has soared over the past two weeks and are outpacing 2016 levels.

Local health systems have recorded over 400 positive cases of flu since January 29.

Health officials say we are now entering the peak of the season and now Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System are adding visitation restrictions to slow the spread.

Anyone under the age of 12 and those with flu-like symptoms should not visit patients at any of their hospitals, the report said Monday.

According to doctors Flu-like symptoms include cough, fever, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue.

The hospitals were already providing masks at each entrance and registration area and designating separate waiting areas for patients experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms.

Infectious disease physician at Bristol Regional Medical Center Dr. Gail Stanley said frequent hand washing can help in stopping the spread of the flu.

She noted that people should avoid touching their nose, mouth and eyes as much as possible and those already suffering from the flu should make plans to stay at home.

"People can spread the flu for up to 24 hours before they start to show symptoms, and they can continue to be contagious for a full week after the onset of symptoms- sometimes even longer with children," Stanley said.

Wait times are increasing at local emergency departments and urgent care centers due to the rise in flu activity, the two providers reported.

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