Eighteen longterm-care and assisted-living facilities in the Northern Health region have their visitation plans in place and either have resumed, or will soon resume, allowing visitors, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Thursday.
Since the province announced visitors would be allowed to return to long-term care homes on June 30, a total of 61 of the facilities in B.C. have gotten their plans in place, Dix said.
Northern Health spokesperson Eyrn Collins said Gateway Lodge has been allowing visitors since July 6, while Jubilee Lodge, Parkside Care and Simon Fraser Lodge will allow visitors starting on Monday. Many other facilities throughout the north will be opening to visitors on Friday, or on Monday, she added.
"The wrinkle to keep in mind here is it is very much in coordination with staff. While visiting has been expanded, there are still some restrictions in place," Collins said.
Anyone who wishes to visit a loved one living in a long-term care facility is advised to contact that facility to find out what the specific procedures are, she said.
Dix's announcement regarding visitors at long-term care and assisted-living centres came during the province's daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while long-term care residents in their families may find the restrictions on visits frustrating, the measures in place are there to protect the province's most vulnerable residents.
"We are doing it the most cautious way we can, knowing these are settings where it can be devastating if the virus is introduced."
NO COVID-19 CASES IN THE NORTH
There were no new cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region announced on Thursday. The north had no active cases as of the update, and the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic remained at 65.
The last new case of COVID-19 in the north was reported on June 8.
Across the province, there were 20 new cases, Henry said, putting the B.C. total since the outset of the pandemic at 3,028.
There were 175 active cases in B.C. as of Thursday, and 17 of those people were hospitalized – including four in intensive care, Henry said.
No new deaths were reported on Thursday, leaving the province's death toll from the pandemic at 186.
"I know some people may be thinking this is all over and they can go back to normal. (But) we've seen elsewhere in the world, including in the U.S., that things can quickly escalate," Henry said. "Let's stay ahead of our COVID-19 pandemic here, and don't give this virus a chance to surge."