New Brunswick relaxes rules on visiting patients nearing end of life
HALIFAX -- New Brunswick has relaxed rules on visiting patients who are nearing end of life in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. As of Monday, they can designate two people who can visit them.
"Restrictions are being relaxed, but not removed," Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference in Fredericton on Monday.
"We don't want anybody to have to die alone, and COVID-19 has created that situation over and over again as we've seen in other jurisdictions."
There can be no subsititutions and only one person can visit at a time. At all times, the visitors must maintain a physical distance of two metres from the patient and the staff.
"We're not only protecting the patients, we need to be very vigilant about protecting the staff, too," said Dr. Russell.
"The elderly, particularly those with underlying health conditions, are at grave risk from the COVID-19 virus," Dr. Russell said. "We will maintain our vigilance on their behalf. But I believe we can provide compassionate access for loved ones while continuing to protect those at greatest risk."
Here is a full list of conditions set out by New Brunwick public health officials:
All designated visitors:
- will be required to maintain physical distancing and limit their interactions with facility staff and the public;
- must leave the patient’s room when staff are conducting procedures;
- must monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and refrain from visiting should symptoms appear; and,
- must follow facility rules regarding infection control for other viruses, such as influenza and the common cold.
In other news, the province said there are no new cases of COVID-19 in the province. Since the pandemic began, more than 18,000 New Brunwickers have been tested for the virus and there have been 120 positive tests. Of those, 118 have recovered and there remain only two active cases.
This past weekend was the first weekend New Brunswickers were allowed to gather outside, with friends and family, but Mother Nature had other plans.
Snow blanketed much of the province Saturday and Sunday.
Still, the premier says he noticed a big change just hours after he announced businesses and restaurants could reopen.
"I noticed the change in traffic immediately actually Friday evening," said Premier Blaine Higgs. "Certainly here in Fredericton, up on Prospect Street, there was a lot more activity around then there had been on Thursday."
Higgs says he found that a bit concerning, but understands the excitement of reopening, after almost two months.
One restaurant took to social media to announce their reopening over the weekend and reminded patrons that they can't seat those who haven't been "bubbling" together -- side by side.
Dr. Russell says she's encouraged by those adhering to the rules.
While the province relaxes the rules for New Brunswickers, he doesn't want to let up for people coming from outside the province.
"One of our key areas of risk would be the borders," Higgs said.
During the last week of April and first week of May, there was an average of 1,690 personal vehicles looking to get across the border, each day; about 39 a day were turned away.
In Moncton, there was an average of 22 passengers arriving through the air and in 19 Fredericton; six people were turned away in total.
"You just have to look around and see what is going on in other provinces around us, particularly as we move across Canada, across Quebec and Ontario," Higgs said.
Higgs says he understands the frustration this can cause, but the public's health is his biggest priority.
There is a virtual career fair planned for the next two days.
More than 50 employers have registered and they'll have virtual booths for job seekers.
People can go to workingnb.ca to register.