With the increase in the number of influenza (flu) cases in Connecticut, Norwalk Hospital has taken steps to implement patient safety procedures and ongoing health education. Effective immediately, the hospital will have temporary restrictions on visitors. Only visitors age 18 and older will be permitted to visit patients. In addition, the hospital is asking people who are ill and experiencing flu-like symptoms, which include cough, sore throat, fever, chills, runny nose and body aches, not to visit patients. In special circumstances, parents or caregivers of a patient may be required to wear a protective mask. Hospital officials said the flu policy is essential in order to ensure the very best care to patients, and to keep the patients, as well as staff and visitors safe. \u201cWe all accumulate germs on our hands from a variety of sources,\u201d Erin Fitzgerald, Infection Control Coordinator for Norwalk Hospital explained. \u201cYou can infect yourself when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after touching a contaminated surface. It is important to wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap and rub them together vigorously for 15 seconds. Then, rinse well and dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel. You may also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that do not require soap,\u201d she added. In addition to hand washing, there are other precautions you can follow to help protect both yourself and others against the spread of flu germs, including \u2022 getting a flu vaccination; \u2022 cough into your elbow, rather than your hand; and \u2022 if you are sick stay home and take care of yourself.