Beginning Monday, Floyd Medical Center will lift visitation restrictions that have been in place to protect patients from catching the flu since early January.

“The positive flu results have trended down in the past three weeks,” said Sheila Bennett, Senior Vice President and Chief of Patient Services at Floyd. “Based on the downward trend, the visitor restrictions should be lifted as of March 12.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which tracks flu cases nationwide, has confirmed that the number of positive tests for the flu nationwide has decreased slowly but steadily in the past two weeks.

Since January, Floyd had discouraged visits by children younger than 13, non-family members and anyone exhibiting possible flu-like symptoms. Despite the lifting of the restrictions, Bennett says people still need to take precautions. The flu season can linger into late spring in Georgia.

She offers the following flu-prevention tips:

Cover coughs or sneezes. Cough into the bend of the elbow, and cover your nose when you sneeze. If you use tissues, throw them away immediately – and then wash your hands.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching any of these areas moves germs from the hands into the body.

Wash hands often. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. This is especially important after using the restroom, before preparing food, after being in pub-lic areas and before and after caring for a sick person.

Stay home from work or school with any flu-like symptoms. The CDC recom-mends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone, except to get medical care. This fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

Get a flu vaccine. The flu virus will continue to circulate for weeks, so it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends the vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months. This vaccine can help prevent the flu or lessen its severity. Floyd Primary Care offices and Floyd Urgent Care offices have vaccines available.