Andrew Brown

Coronavirus: Canberra hospital patients now allowed two visitors under relaxed COVID-19 rules | The Canberra Times

coronavirus, canberra, hospital, canberra hospital, patient numbers, coronavirus, hospital visitors, visitor limits

Patients at ACT hospitals will be allowed to have more visitors, following a relaxing of coronavirus restrictions. From Monday, patients will be allowed to have two visitors per patient per day. The changes will apply to all hospitals in the ACT, including private hospitals, and patients will either be allowed to have both visitors come at once or have them visit separately. Patients had previously been restricted to one visitor per day under COVID-19 measures. Clinical director of the ACT’s COVID-19 response, Professor Imogen Mitchell, said hospital visitor limits were some of the last coronavirus restrictions to be eased in the ACT. “It was protecting the most vulnerable in the community, and obviously we wanted to protect staff and healthcare workers who look after patients,” Professor Mitchell said. “We will still need to continue to be adherent to the COVID-safe rules.” Exemptions will still be able to be issued on compassionate grounds but on a case-by-case basis. Visitors to Canberra’s hospitals will still need to be screened before entry. Pregnant women who are giving birth at hospital may have up to two support people there with them, but pre-planning for visitors will still need to be carried out with hospital staff. Despite the eased restrictions, health officials have urged Canberrans not to bring children with them to the hospital wherever possible. READ MORE: Professor Mitchell said talks had been under way on relaxing visitor limits at ACT hospitals for several weeks. “We commenced talks about a month ago as we became more confident that the community was doing a great job at keeping ourselves safe,” she said. “When it was school holidays, we knew people were travelling, and we wanted to wait for 14 days after the school holidays had ceased so there was a clear understanding of what impact travel would have on the number of cases.” Canberra went more than 100 days without a new case of COVID-19, before a positive test was recorded on Thursday. The Vatican’s ambassador to Australia tested positive for coronavirus while quarantining at his home, after returning to Australia from overseas on October 9. Health officials have said there is little risk of the case spreading throughout the community. The recent case of COVID-19 did not affect the relaxation of hospital visitor limits, but Professor Mitchell said it served as a timely reminder. “It reminds us that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and we need to be attentive and adhering to a COVID-safety plan,” she said. Despite the eased restrictions, Professor Mitchell said visitors at hospitals should still be kept low. “We would still like to advocate for a minimal number of people in the hospital and to ensure we keep health facilities safe,” she said. “We would be reticent to open up [hospital visitor numbers] further any time soon.” Professor Mitchell said while the option to let more visitors into the hospital was a possibility, it would be a while before that took place.

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