Ontario easing long-term care restrictions

Ontario easing long-term care restrictions-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Josh Horowitz waves to his grandmother outside Amica Thornhill, on March 18, 2021. Starting on Monday, Ontario will increase the number of designated caregivers per resident from two to four, though only two can visit at a time. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario is easing visitor restrictions at long-term care homes as the government says public health indicators are starting to improve and the rate of hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 continues on a downward trend.

Starting on Monday, the number of designated caregivers per resident will increase from two to four, though only two can visit at a time.

Residents who have had at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to resume social day trips.

The restrictions, including a pause on access to long-term care facilities for general visitors, took effect in late December as a response to a COVID-19 surge caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said health-care indicators suggest a general improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the province.

General visits from people five years and older who have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to resume on Feb. 21.

On that day, residents will be allowed to have three visitors at a time, all residents can go on social day trips regardless of their vaccination status, residents who have had at least three doses can go on overnight absences, and day programs as well as entertainer visits and personal care services can resume.

On March 14, kids under five can visit again, residents can have four visitors at a time, and all residents regardless of vaccination status can go on overnight absences.

Province reports 60 more deaths linked to COVID-19

Meanwhile the Ministry of Health said Friday morning that as of Thursday there were 2,634 people with COVID-19 in the province’s hospitals. That’s down from 2,797 the day before and 3,535 at the same time last week.

About 54 per cent of those patients were admitted for COVID-related illnesses while 46 per cent were already in hospital when they tested positive for the virus, according to the ministry.

There were 517 patients with COVID-19 who required intensive care, down from 541 the day before and 607 the same time last week.

Roughly 83 per cent of the people with COVID-19 in ICUs were admitted for reasons directly related to the virus.

The additional 60 COVID-19 deaths reported Friday pushes the province’s official toll to 11,711.

Moore also noted Thursday while the coming weeks “will continue to be difficult” for the province’s hospital system, the number of hospitalizations is currently stable.

“There’s also been an increase of wastewater sites across the province reporting a downward trend in COVID-19 detection,” Moore said.

“These trends are encouraging, but we must remain vigilant and adhere to the measures that are helping reduce transmission,” he added.

Moore said some areas of the province “still have precarious and strained health-care capacity,” and more needs to be done to support all regions as Ontario moves ahead with its reopening.

Ontario isn’t sharing data on virus cases and outbreaks in schools but 13 schools were reported closed for operational reasons as of Friday.

Half of the province’s long-term care homes were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks Friday and 14 resident deaths were reported the previous day.

Ontario says 84 per cent of residents aged five and older have had two COVID-19 vaccine doses, 89 per cent have had at least one shot and 46 per cent have received booster doses.


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