ALL non-urgent elective operations will be suspended in every hospital in Somerset for 'at least three months', Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced.

In a statement on Friday (March 27) Dr Ed Ford, chair of Somerset CCG said NHS services are 'likely to come under intense pressure' as coronavirus spreads and the CCG needs to ensure it has 'as many beds as possible' to care for patients with severe respiratory problems when the number of infections peaks.

“In line with well-established plans for situations like this, every hospital in Somerset is suspending all non-urgent elective operations for at least three months, which will enable us to train our staff, adapt certain areas and increase critical care capacity within hour hospitals," Dr Ford said.

“Emergency surgery will continue, and urgent cases and cancer treatments will be carrying on as normal wherever possible, but we know many people waiting for treatment will be disappointed or worried, and we will be contacting everyone affected as soon as possible.

“For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection. If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, please stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started. The symptoms are either a high temperature or a new continuous cough.

"If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious."

Dr Ford said everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of the disease but there are a number of things residents can do to stop the spread of the disease.

These include:

· washing your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

· using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

· covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

· putting used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

· stay two metres (3 steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside