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Families allowed to visit loved ones in care homes

GENERAL visits to hospitals and care homes will be allowed to resume from tomorrow.

Health Minister Robin Swann announced changes to restrictions on visiting across all care settings from this Monday.

In care homes free of Covid-19, two people will be allowed to visit a resident at any one time.

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Masks must be worn by visitors and social distancing and other public health advice must be adhered to.

Partners of pregnant women will also be allowed to accompany them to hospital and doctor visits throughout the pregnancy, from ultrasounds to labour and post-natal care.

In hospital wards and intensive care units, one person will be allowed to visit a patient at any one time.

Decisions on allowing visitors will now be made on a day to day basis, by the nurse in charge at hospitals, or by the manager in care homes.

This will also depend on the ability to ensure social distancing and safety of both patients, residents and the visitors.

Health Minister Robin Swann said, “I understand that the temporary restrictions on visiting have been a particularly difficult consequence of Covid-19.

“However they were necessary in limiting the spread of the virus.

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“I am acutely aware that there are many families yearning to see a loved one, either in hospital or in our care homes.

“As such I tasked officials, headed up by my Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Professor Charlotte McArdle, to review the current visiting guidance.

“Following a review of the evidence, the Strategic Clinical Advisory Cell (SCAC) and CNO have published revised visiting guidance for all Health and Social Care Trust inpatient services including maternity services, mental health and learning disability inpatient services, care homes and hospices.

“This is effective from Monday, July 6.”

The changes to the visiting guidance will be applied as long as the surge level and the Northern Ireland Executive five step approach permits.

Anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of Covid-19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed.

Visitors to any setting must rigorously follow public health hygiene advice – washing heads before and after visits, using hand sanitiser gel and maintain social distancing.

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