Dr. David Colby, CK Medical Officer of Health. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit)Dr. David Colby, CK Medical Officer of Health. (Photo courtesy of the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit)

Stricter public health and hospital visitation guidelines coming to Chatham-Kent

With the number of new COVID-19 cases in Chatham-Kent on the rise, the health unit has announced added restrictions are necessary to help slow the spread of infection.

In a letter issued by Chatham-Kent Public Health early Monday evening, Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby announced the changes will go into effect starting Friday, December 10, at 12:01 a.m.

The restrictions include social gathering limits reduced from 25 people to ten.

While the limits do not apply to weddings, funerals, or religious services, such gatherings must not have receiving lines, they must ensure assigned seating is utilized, a physical distancing of two metres is necessary and attendees will be required to have face coverings on at all times except when seated or consuming food or drink.

Additionally, CKPH said lists of all attendees with contact information need to be kept and should a health official require it for contact tracing.

Businesses and organizations that are open under the Reopening Ontario Act are required to review workplace safety plans outlined in section 3.2 for areas in Step 3 of the province's Roadmap to Exit and make adjustments as needed.

Remote work must also be made available for employees where reasonably possible. Businesses will also be required to keep lists with the contact information of all visitors, patrons and clients.

Failure to comply with the requirements under the letter of instruction could result in a fine of up to $750 for individuals and $1,000 for businesses.

Earlier on Monday, CKPH sent out a notice urging the public to be on alert when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19. The health unit also stated the case management team has reached capacity and any additional increase to the workload would make the situation unmanageable.

The changes outlined in the letter will remain in effect until further notice.


CKHA tightens up visitor restrictions

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is also putting some stricter visitation policies in place at the local hospitals again.

Anyone going into the hospital as a visitor or a care partner will be screened at the main entrance at the Chatham Site and the Emergency Department entrance at the Wallaceburg Site and if they fail screening, they won't be allowed in.

Only one care partner will be allowed for patients in the rehabilitation/inpatient stroke, inpatient psychiatry and complex continuing care units and patients in the ICU can only have two designated care partners and they will be limited to one visitor at a time. Even patients who are at risk of dying can only have two visitors present at the same time.

Exceptions to the CKHA visitor policy continue to include:

- An inpatient who is considered palliative, as determined by the clinical provider, may have one visitor present at a time. - Paediatric patients may be accompanied by one adult visitor. - Women in active labour/post-partum may be accompanied by one visitor. - In the Emergency Department (ED): - A patient who is at imminent risk of dying may have a loved one present with them during their ED stay. - Patients with cognitive or mobility difficulties may be accompanied by one person during their ED stay. - Paediatric patients in the ED are permitted to be accompanied by one adult.

As of Thursday, December 9, 2021, visitors and care partners will also have to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR or rapid antigen test with limited exceptions.

Exceptions to the proof-of-vaccination / negative COVID-19 test policy include:

- Palliative patients or patients at end-of-life (EOL); - Critically ill patients or life altering diagnosis, or imminent risk of dying; - Child birth (triage, labour and delivery, post-partum); - Major surgery (procedure that may not have a positive outcome); - Paediatric patients; - Patients with disabilities that are determined by clinical teams to require the personal support of a family member/caregiver; - Post mortem.

-With files from Millar Hill

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