The hospitals in Indiana’s largest health system and in its most populous county have begun visitor restrictions because of a rise in reported cases of flu and other respiratory viruses, they announced Monday.

The restrictions went into effect Tuesday at all IU Health hospitals. They began Monday at all hospitals in Marion County, home to Indianapolis.

The IU Health restrictions include only immediate family, only two at a time and no visitors under age 18 except parents or guardians and none who have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms. Also, masking is required.

Similar restrictions are in place at all Marion County hospitals. Some exceptions are allowed in certain cases such as end of life. Prospective visitors were advised to check with individual hospitals.

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“Flu is hitting Marion County hard right now and much earlier than it has in recent years,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department.

During the week of Nov. 20-26, the rate of flu-like illness reported in patients at Marion County emergency departments was the highest in 10 years, the department said. The rate was highest among the 5-17 age group.

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