A hospital children's ward has been forced to close after a number of staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

The paediatric's department at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary temporarily closed on Thursday afternoon due to 38 members of staff being advised to self-isolate at home.

As a result, inpatients are being transferred to Furness General Hospital.

Bosses at the facility are keen to stress that the situation is not an outbreak, and they are merely following Government guidelines to ensure patient and staff safety.

A statement from the hospital's chief executive, Aaron Cummins said: "I want to reassure everyone that we do not make such decisions lightly and are only doing so to keep people safe and there is no risk to patients and the regional team is aware.

"The safety of patients and staff is our utmost priority and we are following national Public Health England guidance regarding personal protective equipment, social distancing, and correct hand hygiene.

"We are encouraging all of our staff to be extra vigilant with infection control practices and have produced clear guidance on working safely during COVID-19."

From 2pm on Wednesday, the hospital said they would continue to assess any children that arrived at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and treat them in the A&E department, before discharging or transferring them to Furness General Hospital for further care.

North West Ambulance Service would also be diverting direct to the most appropriate hospital.

From 3pm on Thursday, the children’s inpatient ward will temporarily close and any in-patients will also be transferred to Furness General Hospital in Barrow.

Mr Cummins added: "Colleagues have continued to go above and beyond to keep the department open this week, and it is in the best interest of patients and colleagues that we put some further temporary measures in place.

"We will continue to work with staff, patients and their families to ensure patients continue to get the best care possible and will keep the situation under review.

"We envisage that this will be a temporary measure until June 23 when we will review the situation with an intention to reopen. "