Nova Scotia

Visitors restricted at all N.S. hospitals as COVID-19 cases climb

Nova Scotia Health is making changes to visitor restrictions at hospitals across the province as cases continue to rise during the Omicron-driven wave of the virus.

In-patients will only be allowed 1 dedicated visitor, with some exceptions

Paramedics are seen at the Dartmouth General Hospital in Dartmouth, N.S. on July 4, 2013. Nova Scotia Health has limited all hospitals to 1 dedicated visitor per in-patient, with some exceptions. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia Health is making changes to visitor restrictions at hospitals across the province as cases continue to rise during the Omicron-driven wave of the pandemic.

In a news release Tuesday, the health authority said the changes are needed to reduce the risk of the virus being introduced or spread within its facilities.

Nova Scotia reported 1,020 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the second day in a row with that case count. Forty people are in hospital due to the virus, including five in intensive care. 

Effective 8 a.m. AT Wednesday, most in-patients can have only one consistent (fully vaccinated) designated support person or family caregiver. This includes patients in emergency departments and those in labour and birth areas. 

Children under 19 admitted to hospital, patients in intensive care units, and critically ill patients in emergency departments can have two designated support people, but only one is allowed to visit at a time. 

No visitors for those with COVID-19 or on outbreak unit

Exceptions may be made for palliative patients, patients receiving medical assistance in dying, and others nearing the end of life, the release said.

However, patients and clients with COVID-19, or those who are in a hospital unit where there is an outbreak, will not be permitted to have any visitors unless needed for the patient's care due to physical, intellectual, cognitive and emotional conditions.

"We understand restrictions are difficult for patients and families and appreciate the important and valuable role family caregivers play in supporting patient care and mental well-being," the release said.

"We will monitor the situation closely and will make changes when appropriate."

Exact restrictions may vary between hospitals

For outpatient services, those coming to a hospital for all clinics, appointments, tests or procedures are asked to come alone unless they need support due to physical, intellectual, cognitive and emotional conditions or require a substitute decision-maker. 

Exceptions will also be made for children and youth under 19. These patients are asked to bring a fully vaccinated support person. 

These restrictions may differ by site due to COVID-19 activity within a facility and staffing requirements.

Whenever possible, the release said hospital teams will use technology to enable virtual involvement of support people.

These provincewide restrictions were also in place around this time last year, and come after weeks of individual hospitals limiting visitors as they dealt with COVID-19 activity.

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