MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is joining other health care facilities in putting out guidelines to stop the spread of the flu.

So far, 27 people have died in Minnesota this flu season, and more than 1,100 have been hospitalized.

Children’s says they protect patients year-round by screening all visitors for symptoms of illness and allowing only well visitors inside.

Annually, they have a viral season visitor guidance that goes into place when the first positive flu test occurs — this year it was in October.

The winter guidance restricts all children under the age of 5 years old (because they cannot reliably cover their cough or sneeze or wash their hands independently). Children’s says the end of the season varies depending on when they declare the flu season over, which is based on surveillance of the flu still circulating.

Because of the severity of the regular seasonal strain that’s circulating, the hospital added “enhanced visitor guidance,” which includes the following:

– Only immediate family may visit
– Siblings must be healthy and age 14 years and over
– Only two visitors at the bedside at a time — the hospital has a process for compassionate exceptions in place.

New Flu Drug In Testing

With flu outbreaks across the country, a new study is underway to test a new flu drug.

Seventy sites across the country are taking part in a trial. The oral drug is designed to alleviate symptoms, much like Tamiflu.

Flu patients enrolled in the study have to come in six days in a row for treatment.

Doctors says the new drug is being designed to combat various and rapidly-changing viruses.

“This drug can treat strains that are resistant to Tamiflu, and because this virus replicates so rapidly, there’s always the opportunity for mutation,” said Dr. Thomas Birch of Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey.

However, it will still take years before the drug could be made available to the public.

The study is being funded by the Department of Defense.