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Mask mandate announced for families and visitors at SHA long-term care facilities

Nova Scotia Health is hiring at least 13 more nurse practitioners to work in long-term care. File / Global News

A new medical masking requirement has been announced by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) for its long-term care homes.

“With increasing COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, and in an effort to further minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and its variants, effective immediately, the Saskatchewan Health Authority is expanding its mandatory medical masking protocol,” stated the SHA in a release on Monday.

The protocol will require families and visitors to wear a medical mask provided by staff at all times at SHA long-term care homes and affiliate buildings.

Read more: Seek appropriate health care when needed: Saskatchewan Health Authority

The rule applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and applies to single and multi-resident rooms.

The health authority noted that individuals who refuse to comply with masking requirements may be asked to leave.

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“As the number of outbreaks in long-term care increases and the number of residents infected with COVID-19 and its variants continues to increase, additional safety precautions, including mandatory masking in resident rooms, are needed,” added the health authority.

“We know that it is essential for patients and long-term care residents to be supported by their loved ones while receiving care; masking of family and visitors is one of the ways we are able to support safe family presence.”

Read more: COVID-19 surge in Saskatchewan straining health-care system, organ donations paused

For long-term care residents, they are not required to wear a mask in their own rooms, but are encouraged to mask when outside their room and in common indoor areas.

The SHA said the change follows the latest provincial public health order.

Families and visitors within SHA acute care facilities are still required to mask up.

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