Saskatchewan expanding visits to long-term care homes during COVID-19 pandemic

REGINA — Saskatchewan is expanding its COVID-19 guidelines for those visiting long-term care homes.

Starting Tuesday, health officials say residents can have two family members or support persons for visits, with one person allowed in the facility at a time.

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Patients in intensive care and those receiving palliative care can have two people present at the same time, as long as they keep physical distance.

Visitors are expected to follow health-care guidelines, such as wearing masks, to protect others against the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Scott Moe says placing restrictions on visitors in hospitals, long-term care facilities and group homes has been tough to balance during the pandemic.

"We all know how important it is for patients in hospital and our parents and our grandparents in long-term care homes to have the support of their family," he said at a press conference Friday.

"On the other hand, we also know that the most dangerous and deadly outbreaks in Canada and elsewhere have been in health facilities, in particular in seniors' homes."

Saskatchewan reported one new infection Friday in the far north region, bringing the province's total number of cases to 796.

Four people are in hospital, 711 have recovered and 14 have died.

Provincial chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said that over the past week officials have seen new cases in Prince Albert, a city roughly 140 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

He encouraged residents with mild symptoms to get tested and stay home if they feel ill.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020

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