(Washington Times) Virginia hospital visitors were urged by health care advocates Wednesday to wear masks in an effort to protect against a widespread and severe outbreak of flu rapidly spreading across the country.

More than two dozen hospitals, medical facilities and urgent-care centers in the Hampton Roads area announced changes to their visitation policies that also include restrictions on visitors younger than 18 years old, since youth are more susceptible to the severe H1N1 flu strain.

“Our goal as health care providers is to use every available means to protect our patients from exposure to outside infections,” officials said. “This visitation change comes at a time when the pandemic H1N1 virus is already widespread and increasing well before seasonal flu typically hits our region.”

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