Long-term care homes may soon be welcoming visitors, Health P.E.I.'s chief of nursing said Tuesday morning.
Marion Dowling made the remarks during a news conference during where she and chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison provided an update on the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) situation in P.E.I.
“We do expect to make changes to visitor restrictions in long-term care following the changes in the public health order and working with the Chief Public Health Office,” said Dowling.
“We do understand the difficulty this situation has presented for residents and their families and friends.”
Dowling will have more details on Thursday.
Initially, meeting outdoors is preferable, but she said homes are making plans to facilitate visits inside as well.
“There’s lots of planning and shifting of space within these facilities to try and accommodate this as safely as we can, and the visits will be scheduled at the outset,” said Dowling.
As P.E.I. continues to loosen public health restrictions because of the coronavirus, it’s important to remember the basics, said Morrison.
“COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person by droplets. These droplets can come from coughing, sneezing, speaking forcefully or singing, actually, and this is why physical distancing – or staying six feet apart – is so important,” said Morrison, adding the virus does not “shoot across the room” or soak through the skin.
It’s also important for people to continue using enhanced cleaning measures to wipe away any droplets on surfaces, as well as to contain the droplets by wearing non-medical masks, she said.
People should continue to take precautions like physical distancing, washing hands and not touching their face.
“We must all practise this, this is the way we will be having to live for the next number of months,” said Morrison.
There have been more than 346,000 deaths related to COVID-19 around the world to date. In Canada, there have been more than 85,000 cases and more than 6,500 deaths with Morrison adding the areas of concern are Ontario and Quebec
Morrison said 17 per cent of cases in Canada have been hospitalized and four per cent have been put on ventilators.
It has been several weeks since the last confirmed case in P.E.I., and no one has been hospitalized in the province because of the virus.
Morrison said there have been 376 new negative tests since Friday.
Morrison also lifted the 30-day limits on prescription drugs and thanked P.E.I. pharmacy staff for their hard work during the pandemic.
Looking foward, Morrison and her team are putting together guidelines for faith gatherings. Howeverm even in Phase 3 of the Renew P.E.I. Together plan, indoor gatherings will be limited to 15 and outdoor groups are capped at 20.
“The mass gathering number will not increase on June 1,” said Morrison.
“We need to keep a manageable number so we can do contact tracing. It’s often been in mass gathering settings where outbreaks have occurred.”
Morrison told reporters at the briefing that, as of Monday, May 25, Vision Research Inc. has taken over the calls monitoring people who have arrived in the province to make sure they’re in self-isolation.
Previously, calls were made by provincial employees, including Access P.E.I. staff, employees from the Department of Education and library staff.
- REPLAY: Dr. Heather Morrison provides an update on the coronavirus for P.E.I. May 26
- How P.E.I. seniors’ homes are managing the risk of COVID-19
- P.E.I. seniors homes closing to visitors, non-urgent care appointments being rescheduled to limit coronavirus spread
- What you need to know about COVID-19: July 3, 2020