Continuing care off-site visit rules changing at end of May: Alta. top doctor

EDMONTON — At the end of the month, visitation rules at Alberta continuing care facilities will take into account a resident’s vaccination status as well as their wellbeing.

Starting May 31, new residents and residents returning from a same-day or overnight off-site outing will no longer be required to quarantine under certain conditions.

All incoming residents will undergo a screening: fully vaccinated people will not need to take any other precautions, residents who have only received one of two doses or no vaccine at all will need to provide twice daily symptom checks for two weeks.

“These changes take into account not only the positive impact vaccinations have had in these facilities, but also recognize the toll that COVID-19 has had on the physical and mental wellbeing of residents in these locations,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said, announcing the change Wednesday.

About 86 per cent of Albertans 80 years and older have received one dose of COVID-19; roughly three quarter those people are fully immunized.

The rates are slightly lower in the decade younger. Between 82 and 84 per cent of Albertans aged 70-79 have received their first dose. However, while 70 per cent of those aged 75-79 are fully immunized, only about 16 per cent of those 70-74 are.

Incoming residents will still need to quarantine if they:

  • don’t pass the health screening;
  • are returning from international travel;
  • have been a close contact of a confirmed case;
  • have symptoms; or
  • are returning from a unit at a health-care facility that has an outbreak.

APPROACH BASED ON INDIVIDUAL STATUS

The approach is different than the one the province says it will use to ease COVID-19 restrictions, where the former is based on an individual’s status, and the latter on the population’s vaccination rate.

According to Hinshaw, the move is expected to improve seniors’ quality of life and maintain preventative measures reducing the risk they face.

“We heard in the telephone town halls that we did over the past month or so that one of the most significant impacts people were noticing was the impact of a 14 day quarantine on people who perhaps move from one location to another… Or if someone, for example, was living in a lodge or owns a cabin and went to the cabin by themselves for the weekend, and had to come back and be quarantined. That was having a very significant impact on their mental well being on their quality of life,” Hinshaw told reporters.

“We made the decision to utilize the impact of immunizations as a risk-assessment metric.”

She directed questions to the site operators who will be implementing the new rules.  

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