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New LTC rules and faster COVID test approved

In his daily news conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said that changes are coming to long-term care visiting rules in areas with high community spread of COVID-19. Officials indicated Ottawa, Peel and Toronto would fall under that umbrella, but did not clearly state any other regions.

“We can’t let COVID-19 get into these homes,” Ford said.

As of Oct. 5, Ford said, visitors to long-term care homes in these areas will be restricted to staff, essential visitors and essential caregivers only. It was also announced today that Canada Health has approved a new COVID test that can yield quick results. It will take a few weeks to roll out the new test. It will yield results within 15minutes.

Up to two individuals can be essential caregivers, the province says. Ford interrupted reporters questions today to pay tribute to Doctor David Williams who has been subject of criticism in past for his apparently lack of clarity on some of his health advice. “This guy’s a champion, “ Ford said. “I’d go to war any day with him on a pandemic….Dr. Williams understands health is a priority and the economy is right  there…He’s done everything in his power to have a happy balance.”

For his part Williams defended trying to keep the province in stage three rather than returning to stage two as the Ontario Hospital Association has suggested. “If there was an easy formula, he said—a cookie cutter we’d do that. But we are using targeted measures.”

Ford also said the province is investing $540 million into the long-term care sector, which will go toward helping facilities with containment measures, staffing supports, renovations for infection control, and getting personal protective equipment (PPE).

The province is ensuring that every long-term care home in the province has a two-month supply of PPE, Ford said.

Ontario is currently reporting outbreaks in 46 long-term care homes. There were 78 confirmed active cases reported in residents on Tuesday, which marks an increase of 14.71 per cent.

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