26 September 2022

Swathe of COVID-19 hospital restrictions wound back

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra Hospital emergency department

Visitor restrictions at Canberra Hospital have now been lifted. Photo: File.

Canberra Health Services has wound back a swathe of COVID-19 hospital restrictions at Canberra Hospital, with Calvary expected to follow suit later this week.

As of 7 am this morning, visitor restrictions at the hospital were eased, allowing patients more than two visitors a day.

A spokesperson for the hospital said visitors will still need to comply with density limits and the COVID-safe requirements of the specific facility or ward.

In a statement, a CHS spokesperson said the decision to ease restrictions across its facilities had been made following consideration of the COVID-19 situation in the Territory and surrounding areas, as well as the advice of the ACT Clinical Health Emergency Coordination Centre (CHECC).

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It had also considered the social, emotional and practical benefits of easing restrictions, as well as the safety and wellbeing of the community. It believed it was now “the right time” to make these changes in healthcare facilities.

Visitors will no longer be required to use the health screening tool before attending a CHS health facility but must still abide by a number of rules.

That includes requiring a surgical mask or approved N95 mask in certain areas.

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People must not enter a CHS facility if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 or an acute respiratory infection, are a high-risk contact of a positive case or have themselves tested positive in the last seven days.

Visitors are also asked to follow the advice of healthcare staff, maintain physical distancing and limit movement in the areas they are visiting.

“By being diligent and following the latest information, we can all benefit from the latest easing of COVID requirements in CHS health facilities while continuing to protect the safety of patients, visitors and staff,” a CHS spokesperson said.

Hospital visitor restrictions were relaxed slightly in February this year to allow each patient two visitors per day, although only one was permitted at a time.

Visitors to the hospital were initially banned entirely on Boxing Day last year in response to skyrocketing caseloads driven by the Omicron variant.

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The easing of the hospital visitor restrictions comes days before the Territory’s public health emergency will be lifted. That emergency declaration, which was first enacted in March 2020, will be replaced with special pandemic management legislation.

It’s expected that the public transport mask mandate will be eased along with the public health emergency. The government indicated last week it was consulting with workers and unions about the change.

However, some COVID-19 restrictions will likely remain in force, including the requirement to quarantine for five days as a positive case.

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