Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has eased restrictions on visitations.

The Watauga Democrat reports the System has moved from madnatory restrictions to voluntary restrictions when visiting patients.

According to the report ARHS is asking people under age 12 and people who are sick or have been exposed to respiratory illness to refrain from visiting friends or family at Watauga Medical Center, Cannon Memorial Hospital and The Foley Center. There may be exceptions made on a case by case basis for siblings of newborns and families of hospice or end of life patients.

The move comes as the number of new flu cases has come down recently.

So far, 276 flu-related deaths have been reported in the state since October 1st.

The report indicates this flu season has been one of the worst in recent years with influenza-like symptoms in outpatient visits at nearly 11 percent on Feb. 10, the highest in several years. As of March 3, that number was down to 3 percent.