Southampton's main hospital has imposed restrictions on visiting as it struggles to cope with a spike in the number of infections.

University Hospital Southampton has also reintroduced mask-wearing in all adult clinical areas, with the exception of Southampton Children's Hospital and maternity services.

But visiting is still allowed in exceptional circumstances, plus the children's hospital and maternity service areas.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Grundy and Chief Nursing Officer Gail Byrne have blamed an increase in infections circulating in the community and in the hospital itself.

They said: "We are currently experiencing extreme pressures across our hospital due to a combination of spikes in winter illness and infection, record numbers of patients remaining in our care when they no longer require hospital treatment, and exceptionally high volumes of people seeking help via our emergency department.

"Our immediate priority is to do everything in our power to protect our patients, services and staff by minimising the risk of infection spread."

A statement on the hospital's website says: "We are taking immediate action to help prevent further spread and protect our patients and staff.

"From today we will be re-introducing mask-wearing in all adult clinical areas of the hospital.

"In addition we are restricting visitor access, meaning there will be no visiting permitted, again with the exception of Southampton Children’s Hospital and maternity service areas.

"There will also be exemptions for patients on end-of-life pathways/exceptional circumstances and carers of patients.

"Families will be asked to speak to their clinical teams if they fall under these exemptions to make appropriate arrangements.

"Staff, patients and permitted visitors, will from today be expected to wear a surgical mask in all clinical areas including outpatients and in waiting areas.

"Supplies of masks will continue to be made available at the entrances to our hospital sites, and also at the entrances to ward and clinical areas.

"These actions are a necessary response to the current high levels of viruses that are causing increased pressure on our bed availability at a time when we are seeing sustained pressure coming through our Emergency Department.

"The measures will be kept under constant review and we will keep you updated with any further information relating to our infection prevention controls.

"Your support in adhering to these new requirements, that have been introduced to protect our patients and our staff, is appreciated.

"We will be updating signage and messaging that reflects the new mask-wearing and visitor requirements across our digital channels and site as soon as possible.

"For child health, maternity and neonatal areas other arrangements outside of this can be made in agreement with the nurse in charge, consultant or another appropriate healthcare professional involved in the patient's care.

"Other key measures will remain in place in order to maintain the safety of patients, staff and visitors:

"Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, other respiratory viruses or symptoms of viral gastroenteritis must not visit, even if these symptoms are mild or intermittent, due to the risk they pose to others.

"Anyone who has recently been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is advised not to visit unless they have taken a negative lateral flow test.

"Hand hygiene and other measures should be followed, including enhancing ventilation in areas by opening doors/windows; maintaining distance from others wherever possible; avoiding over-crowding in rooms and spaces; regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment.

"If you are unable to visit a loved one in hospital, our Patient Support Hub can help you with sending messages or gifts."