With the recent decline in the number of flu cases reported by the state, Mission Health as eased visitor restrictions at their facilities.

The Avery Journal reports the Asheville based heath provider has made the change as of March 8th.

Mission Health is still urging patient's families and friends to limit hospital visits and that those 12 and younger and those who do not feel well to call patients, rather than visit them in person.

Mission Health operates facilities in western North Carolina including Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine.

The News and Observer in Raleigh reported that a week after state public health officials declared that the flu epidemic had peaked in the state, deaths linked to the viral infection dropped again to 18. The total number of flu-related deaths in the state is 253 since the season began October 1st.

Officials said that even as flu-related death totals fluctuate, total hospitalizations and reported cases continue to go down, indicating that the worst of the flu epidemic is over. 

Officials warned that the flu virus is still in circulation and will stick around for several more months. The flu season typically lasts through May.