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Care homes clampdown after coronavirus spike

Fast action: Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer (File photograph)

Tougher visiting regulations have been imposed at rest homes after a massive spike in coronavirus cases.

The Royal Gazette has obtained a copy of a letter issued by the Chief Medical Officer which ordered care homes to revert to Phase 1 of the Covid-19 rules on visits and activities.

The order, which came into effect yesterday, said care home residents were allowed to appoint just two “essential visitors”.

The individuals will be able visit a resident one at a time, and can stay for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Non-essential visitors will be permitted to see residents, but will only be able to make contact through closed windows.

The order added that no daycare services can be provided, and all activities must be held on care home property.

The order, signed by Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, last Friday, said: “Due to the changing status in the community regarding Covid-19 infections and exposures, out of caution, care homes are being moved back to Phase 1 of their visiting and activities.

He told care homes: “Please ensure residents’ families and friends are informed of the visiting restrictions and requirements.

“Homes are to encourage family and friends to keep in touch with loved ones by phone or video chat or other technologies, as available.”

He added: “We appreciate your diligence and commitment to maintaining these requirements and restrictions to keep residents safe while providing alternatives to help support their quality of life during these challenging times.”

A health ministry spokeswoman was last night unable to confirm if the order had gone into effect.

But a staff member at one rest home confirmed the home was now operating under the new rules.

It is understood that there are around 740 residents in two Government-run homes for the elderly, as well as people in private care homes.

Care home residents were among the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in January, although statistics on how many have now been given the jabs were not available.

This morning a spokesman for the ministry of health confirmed that tougher restrictions were in place.

She said: “Phase 1 visiting restrictions have been reintroduced.

“This means visitation must occur through closed windows or glass doors, virtually or via phone. Essential visitors are still allowed based on the care home assessment of need and capacity to accommodate.”

She added that, of approximately 350 residents in rest homes, only 201 – less than two thirds - had been given the vaccine. Care home residents were among the first in line two be offered the drug when it became available at the start of the year.“

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Published March 23, 2021 at 9:36 am (Updated March 23, 2021 at 9:36 am)

Care homes clampdown after coronavirus spike

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