Alberta is changing up a few rules when it comes to COVID-19 protections at continuing care centres throughout the province.
New measures have been put into place that will make it mandatory for all continuing care residents that share a unit with someone who tested positive for coronavirus to be tested, even if they are showing no symptoms, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw stated at a Wednesday press conference.
Anyone with even the mildest symptoms, such as a sore throat or hoarse voice, must immediately be tested and isolated.
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Hinshaw also announced that Alberta will begin allowing residents who are not in isolation to have outdoor visits with designated essential visitors and one other person.
“These are important to the mental health of residents and families,” Hinshaw said.
“Of course, while outside, all precautions must be taken to prevent exposure to COVID-19. This includes physical distancing and requring all visitpors to wear a mask or face covering.”
She noted that restricting visitors into continuing care and long-term care facilities is still necessary “to protect the long-term safety of staff, residents, and visitors, especially in facilities with a confirmed outbreak.”
She also mentioned that the initial coronavirus precautions had been more restrictive than intended when it came to people visiting residents nearing the end of their life.
“We expect that individuals who are dying should have the opportunity to have loved ones at their side, while following the guidance in place in ensure everyone’s safety,” she said.
“That is why the orders that I am announcing today also clarify visitation for circumstances where an Albertan is at the end of their life. The definition of end of life is in the two weeks prior to death, acknowledging that these estimates will always be imprecise. It is important, though, that it be clear that end of life is being measured in weeks rather than in days or in hours.”
Alberta will also be allowing up to two visitors at a time for patients who are dying as long as physical distancing measures can be maintained between the visitors.
Hinshaw also clarified that standalone hospice facilities do not fall under the same visitor restrictions that have been applied to continuing care centres.
Alberta has also eased the measures in place at Alberta’s addiction treatment facilities, allowing special accommodation for group therapy in an effort to support the shorter residency of clients.