PATIENTS at Mildura Base Hospital (MBH) will now be allowed only one visitor, as the hospital ramps up its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital announced on Thursday that visitor numbers would be reduced across all wards and that all visitors would now have to wear masks.
Patients are permitted only one visitor, who must be nominated on admission, for the duration of their hospital stay.
However, additional visitors may be permitted on compassionate grounds and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Director of nursing Janet Hicks said the measures were aimed at reducing the risk of introducing COVID-19 to the hospital.
"We know that the virus is emerging in regional communities, so we are doing our best to be on the front foot in protecting patients, our health care workers and visitors," she said.
"We have not had a case of COVID-19 in Mildura for more than two months, but we are undoubtedly in a high-risk period at the moment."
Visiting hours remain unchanged. Guests permitted for up to two hours between 11am and 1pm each day.
Everyone arriving at the hospital is asked a series of questions and temperature-tested before entry.
Visitors will also be provided with a mask if they do not have one.
MBH director of intensive care Dr Alison Walker said it was important for patients and visitors to respect the new rules.
"We understand that these restrictions may cause anxiety for many people, especially when you want to see a loved one," she said.
"I would just ask members of our community to remember the restrictions are in place to protect our most vulnerable community members."
Dr Walker also urged the Sunraysia community not to become complacent, saying the best defences against COVID-19 remained unchanged.
"It's everything we have been doing -- practise good hand hygiene; stay at least 1.5 metres away from others; understand the risks and symptoms; and get tested, even if your symptoms are mild," she said.
"Getting tested when you are unwell is vitally important."
Dr Walker urged people who had been tested to self-isolate until getting results.
"Get tested and go straight home, don't stop or detour anywhere on the way," she said.