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Masks made mandatory at IWK and NSHA hospitals starting next week

The Nova Scotia Health Authority will require all visitors and patients to wear a mask upon enetring any of its hospital facilities, starting July 21. File

Effective Tuesday, July 21, visitors and patients of Nova Scotia Health (NSHA) hospitals and the IWK Health Centre will be required to wear non-medical masks upon entering any health care facilities, in an effort to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

“Requiring people to wear masks adds another layer of protection… and is consistent with evolving evidence and advice from public health experts,” said NSHA president and CEO Dr. Brendan Carr, in a news release.

Read more: N.S. makes masks mandatory on public transit, eases visitor restrictions in long-term care homes

People wearing masks must also maintain a physical distance of 6 ft. from others when possible, says the release.

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Handwashing and practicing respiratory etiquette is also being advised.

“We must also stress that masks are not a replacement for physical distancing,” said Dr. Shelly McNeil, chief of infectious diseases, at NSHA Central Zone.

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McNeil said that physical distancing and good hand hygiene are the most effective ways to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and must continue to be practiced.

Read more: No new coronavirus cases reported in Nova Scotia Friday

Only hospital inpatients, children under two years old and staff working in non-clinical areas are exempt from this requirement once they are able to maintain physical distance from others.

According to the release, visitors with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, on self-isolation orders or are waiting to be tested for COVID-19 due to recent travel or exposure, will not be permitted to enter facilities.

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