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Ontario to tighten vaccination and testing requirements at long-term care homes

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Health officials and advocates have been calling for rapid action to protect long-term care homes as cases of Omicron increase at a rate in the province that is almost too quick for officials to keep up with.

The Ontario government is tightening vaccination and testing requirements at long-term care homes, among other measures, in an effort to protect vulnerable residents from the surging Omicron wave. “Our priority is to protect long-term care residents from COVID-19,” said Long-Term Care Minister Rod Phillips on Tuesday.

“Based on the rising rates of community infection and the emerging threat of the Omicron variant, we are immediately implementing further measures to protect our most vulnerable based on the best scientific and medical advice.” Those measures include:

  • Testing all fully vaccinated staff, students, volunteers and caregivers two times a week, beginning on Friday. Negative tests will be required on entry, unless there is a negative test from the previous day.
  • Requiring full vaccination for all general visitors who want to enter.
  • Caregivers must now have a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 20 and a second dose by Feb. 21 for entry. Outdoor, masked and distanced, visits will be permitted for unvaccinated visitors and caregivers.
  • Fully vaccinated residents will be screened or isolated after day absences from the facility. No overnight absences for social reasons will be allowed.
  • PCR testing and enhanced screening will be required for any transfers from another health-care facility that is not in outbreak. Negative PCR tests will be required on arrival and after seven days. Residents will isolate until there is a negative test result.
  • Homes will also be audited weekly if in outbreak and every two weeks if not and be directed on ventilation, and infection prevention and control.

Earlier in the pandemic, the province ordered that no more residents be admitted to long-term care ward rooms with three or four beds. But around 350 residents who were already in those. Some research found that homes with ward rooms — which includes the oldest homes — were more likely to have had worse results during the pandemic. Last Friday, when he announced that Omicron was spreading rapidly in Ontario, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore promised more action to protect long-term care residents. He said the province has learned lessons from the past. Health officials and advocates have been calling for rapid action to protect long-term care homes as cases of Omicron increase at a rate in the province that is almost too quick for officials to keep up with. Last Friday, Moore warned Omicron could be dominant in Ontario by the end of December. It is now expected to be dominant within days.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ontario-to-tighten-vaccination-and-testing-requirements-at-long-term-care-homeshttps://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ontario-to-tighten-vaccination-and-testing-requirements-at-long-term-care-homes

Read the December 12, 2021, Citizen COVID-19 update for Ottawa for mention of COVID outbreak at one local LTC facility.
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/ottawa-sees-highest-covid-19-daily-case-count-in-seven-months-1.5703636 

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