Hospital authorities in the midlands have moved to ban partners of women from attending the birth of their children in hospitals.

In a new clampdown on hospital regulations aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19, Mullingar Regional Hospital said this afternoon that partners, relatives or friends of the mother-to-be who were allowed into the delivery rooms up to this, will no longer be given the opportunity to be present at the child birth.

In a statement, the HSE said the hospital "understands and apologises" for any distress caused to parents.

It said the ban is being imposed in order to protect mothers and their new born babies, as well as all staff and other patients within the hospital.

The statement suggests that this position on delivery rooms will change "only in outstanding circumstances."

It added it hopes the restrictions can be lifted as soon as possible, and said it appreciated the level of support and understanding towards the hospital during what is a very difficult time.