Alberta lifts some continuing care COVID-19 restrictions; 35 new cases

Article content

Alberta has lifted some of the remaining mandatory COVID-19 rules for continuing and long-term care facilities.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Rules around the number and type of visitors, dining and recreation, and most COVID-19 screening or quarantine rules for residents who leave and return to a site can be removed immediately. Facilities have until July 31 to make the changes. Some other rules, including outbreak protocols and having staff work at only one site, remain in place.

The government is removing restrictions in two phases beginning with those that “present a low to medium risk,” and after a series of telephone town halls in June where around 2,000 residents, family members and workers gave feedback, according to a Tuesday news release. No date for the second phase has been set.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the changes can happen now because of high vaccination rates.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“Residents and their family members have made tremendous sacrifices over the course of this pandemic. Thanks to the power of vaccines, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said in the release. “Residents can resume many of the activities they once loved to do and have more opportunities to connect with their loved ones.”

Visitors will still be screened for symptoms or exposures to COVID-19 and masks are still mandatory in common areas. Wearing a mask throughout the facility is encouraged, but not required, for people who aren’t fully vaccinated.

There may be some cases where residents have to quarantine, such as if they are returning from a hospital with an outbreak and they are not fully vaccinated, but in most cases screening and quarantining won’t be required.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw called the changes a “measured and practical approach” given vaccination rates.

“The restrictions lifted today will go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health,” she said in the news release.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

These rules apply to licensed supportive living facilities, long-term care facilities and hospice. Other restrictions remain in place.

Staff, students, volunteers and service providers must still wear masks in common areas and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or exposures before entering a facility. Cleaning and disinfecting routines for common areas, testing guidelines, and isolation and quarantine protocols, are still in effect.

There are only six active cases in continuing care facilities in Alberta, according to the province.

By Tuesday, 74.2 per cent of Albertans 12 and older had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 55.9 per cent of this age group had two, provincial data shows. About 90 per cent of Albertans 65 and older have had one vaccine while more than 81 per cent had two.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

35 cases, three deaths

Meanwhile, the province reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Three more people have died from COVID-19, ending a five-day streak where the death toll remained unchanged. Provincewide 2,310 people have died from the disease. There are 112 people in hospital for COVID-19, including 33 in ICU.

Active cases dropped to 599 by Tuesday. The Edmonton Zone had 119 active cases while there were 298 in the Calgary area. Of all of Alberta’s active cases, 351 were variants of concern.

In the previous 24 hours, 4,991 COVID-19 tests were run. Alberta’s R-value for July 5 to July 11 was 0.84. The Edmonton Zone’s rate was higher than other regions, at 0.97.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Latest articles

Related articles