COVID-19: B.C. health officials reopening care homes to visitations

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Dix also noted 5,689 emergency room visits were recorded on Tuesday, June 23.

Officials said they approached the easing of care home restrictions with great caution, but that a number of factors have given them confidence that they can pull it off safely.

Visitors will still be banned at facilities battling active outbreaks of the virus. Visitors will be required to wear a mask and visits will need to be booked in advance in order to ensure visitations are properly spaced out throughout the day. "I have spoken before about the negative unintended consequences of COVID-19, the emotional and the mental costs, and I know that for many seniors and elders in long term care, the impact of being separated from their loved one has been enormous". "This weighs heavily on us", Henry said.

Since Jan. 27, when B.C. recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19, there have been 615 positive tests - 386 residents and 229 staff - at long-term care facilities. More than half are linked to care homes, the largest source of cases in the province. "As we move into this phase of our Restart Plan, we must remember COVID-19 remains a risk for everyone". There have been several fatal outbreaks at long-term care facilities during the current health crisis and they make up almost 70 per cent of coronavirus-related deaths in British Columbia.

Henry said visits will initially be limited to one person. "And as we expect, things will progress We'll expand these activities, as we have done with every other activities, and we will be monitoring this on an ongoing basis to ensure that we can expand access as soon as it's safe to do".

Health Minister Adrian Dix added the province will provide more than $160 million for long-term care and assisted-living facilities in B.C.to hire up to three full-time staff. That includes the low COVID-19 caseload in the province, and the fact that personal protective equipment is now well stocked and readily available where needed. "It may take some facilities a week or 10 days to get all provisions in place but I know they are working on it and it will happen", she said.

"We've had occasion in the past week where people have arrived with symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19", Henry added.

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