Ontario Pauses General Visitations to Long-Term Care Homes

The Ontario government has introduced new temporary restrictions regarding long-term care homes. As of December 30 at 12:01 a.m, general visits will not be permitted however caregivers will still be allowed to enter homes.

Residents will also not be permitted to take day absences for social purposes.

This comes as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps through southern Ontario, with over 8,000 new infections reported Tuesday.

Ontario’s Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips says community spread is the biggest single factor affecting outbreaks in care homes.

“Today, there are 41 long-term care homes in an outbreak, up from 37 yesterday. 93 residents and 161 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. As of today, there are no long-term care residents in hospital as a result of COVID-19.” Phillips remarked in a virtual news conference.

“We’re implementing new measures to protect our most vulnerable. All general visits to long-term care homes will be paused unless you are visiting a relative in a palliative situation,” he said.

As of December 22, over 84 percent of long-term care residents and 43 percent of staff have received their booster.

The news comes as in the past week several hospitals in Ontario are updating their visitor policies amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

As of this past Tuesday, Unity Health Toronto, a hospital network consisting of St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Healthcare, says each inpatient who has a stay of fewer than seven days will not be allowed a visitor.

An inpatient who is anticipated to have a hospital stay longer than seven days may identify two designated visitors, with one allowed to visit within a 24-hour period provided they show proof of vaccination and ID.

Unity Health Toronto notes inpatient visits will be a maximum length of three hours, while patients attending outpatient clinic appointments and day surgery or in the emergency department will generally not be allowed, visitors.

The University Health Network, another Toronto hospital network, is announcing similar changes, with no visitors allowed for patients in the hospital for less than seven days.

The Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto also updated its visitor policy today, with inpatients allowed only one fully vaccinated designated visitor each day during regular visiting hours, with some exceptions.

Sunnybrook says only outpatients with “significant need” will be permitted one pre-approved companion.

In Dryden, Ont., the Dryden Regional Health Centre said each patient will only be permitted one designated essential visitor, who is identified by the patient and is “paramount to the fundamental care and/or mental health of the patient.” The health centre said all visitors must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of a negative antigen test taken within the last 48 hours.

Last week, Ontario introduced enhanced province-wide measures at long-term care and retirement homes in light of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The restrictions include preventing visitors who are not fully vaccinated from visiting loved ones inside the facilities, limiting indoor visits to a maximum of two people per resident at a time, and outdoor visits, where feasible, to a maximum total of four people per resident at a time.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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