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Ontario enhancing COVID-19 protections for Long-Term Care residents, families and staff

TORONTO: On March 11th, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement related to long-term care and COVID-19 in Ontario: “The health and well-being of Ontarians, including long-term care residents, their families, and staff, is our number one priority. Ontario recently announced that the province is implementing an enhanced response structure to COVID-19 that brings together a wide range of partners to strengthen and implement provincial and regional plans. The structure involves the creation of a number of tables – or expert teams – including a new Command Table that will serve as a single point of oversight. Senior leadership from across the government and the health sector are now providing clear strategic direction to guide Ontario’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Through a Collaboration Table, stakeholders from the long-term care sector have the opportunity to provide valuable advice. Our government has also recently instructed long-term care homes to begin active screening of staff, students, volunteers, visitors, residents moving into a long-term care home and residents returning to a long-term care home. These individuals will now be proactively checked for symptoms and asked about recent travel history and contacts. Outbreaks can occur in long-term care homes throughout the year and, as it is flu season, homes currently have respiratory infection outbreak protocols in place. When long-term care homes submit samples for standard respiratory testing, they will now also be tested for COVID-19 automatically to ensure the province identifies potentially unknown cases. Ontario continues to work directly with our partners at the Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health units to monitor the situation closely. Newly strengthened protocols for identification and control are in place to keep the public safe. These protocols and processes continue to be effective, and the risk to Ontarians taking precautions to keep themselves and their families safe remains low. There are everyday actions that residents, staff and family members should continue to take to reduce exposure to the virus and help prevent the spread of germs: • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; • sneeze and cough into your sleeve;

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