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Coronavirus: St. Joe’s hospital screening staff, visitors for COVID-19

Hamilton hospitals continue to screen patients and staff entering care facilities. Matthew Bingley / Global News

On Tuesday, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton will begin COVID-19 screening protocols and is recommending staff, patients and visitors arrive at its health-care facilities at least 30 minutes before any scheduled appointments.

In a release, St. Joe’s said it is not only running screenings for the new coronavirus but that it has also begun restricting visitors to the hospital, allowing only one family member at a time between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

READ MORE: Coronavirus tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 in Canada today?

“St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton will be limiting entrances at our sites and conducting COVID-19 screening of all patients, visitors, staff and physicians before entering the hospital,” the hospital said in a release on its website.

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Upon arrival, patients and visitors can expect to be asked general questions about their current health, recent travel history and contact with those who have recently travelled overseas.

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“If the patient or visitor meets the screening criteria for COVID-19, they will be directed to a secondary screening area for further assessment,” the release reads.

READ MORE: Hamilton opens 2 assessment centres for COVID-19

The hospital goes on to say it’s suspending elective surgeries and other non-emergency activities in addition to encouraging online virtual visits to reduce face-to-face, non-essential clinic visits as set out in guidelines by the provincial government to maximize resources during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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“Patients will be contacted by their physicians’ office if their surgery has been postponed,” the hospital said.

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Hamilton Public Health confirmed five new positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

In an update at city hall, Mayor Fred Eisenberger revealed the new number and said that as of Monday, Hamilton Health Sciences had tested 244 people for COVID-19, with 10 positive cases.

No details of the five new cases were disclosed, except that the infections were all related to travel and that those patients are in self-isolation.

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A pair of COVID-19 assessment centres are now open at Hamilton Health Sciences’ urgent care clinic at 690 Main St. W. and the east-end clinic at 2757 King St. E., which is operated by St. Joseph’s Healthcare.

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The assessment centres are by appointment only for those who have a referral from their doctor or Hamilton Public Health based on symptoms such as a cough or fever, travel history and exposure to known cases.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health, says the centres will “help to contain the spread of infection in our community” while reducing pressure on the “already overburdened health-care system.”

The City of Hamilton adds that additional COVID-19 assessment centres may open later, as needed.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.