With at least 11 reported COVID-19 outbreaks recently at long-term care (LTC) facilities in Saskatchewan, the reintroduction of visitor limitations in Saskatoon isn't a surprise to one care home.
The province reported 426 new confirmed cases in the Saskatoon region on Thursday.
As of Thursday residents at LTC homes in Saskatoon moved to Level 1 restrictions, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). That means residents can designate two consistent essential family/support persons with only one person present at a time indoors.
For those persons in end-of-life or palliative care, more than two people are permitted.
"It was kind of expected with the increase in numbers and the fact that the Omicron variant is a lot more easily transmissible," said Eric Anderson, who is the communications leader for Sherbrooke Community Centre in the city.
Anderson said residents were grateful to have been able to spend the holidays with family and friends.
"We were fortunate to have no restrictions in terms of visiting at that time, except for having to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test," Anderson said.
"We saw lots of family and friends come and visit, and I know residents feel very grateful for that and our staff here feel grateful for that as well because, you know, especially at that time of the year, you want to make those connections."
Sherbrooke does not have an active outbreak, but Anderson said the care home has been through them before.
"We have experienced outbreaks in 2021, and so we know firsthand how hard those outbreaks are. And so it's definitely on everyone's mind here."
Anderson said the outbreaks elsewhere and the new restrictions reinforce this is the new reality and just how important it is to have proper mask use, hand washing and keeping close contacts to a minimum.
He also said Sherbooke has not seen a staffing shortage caused by positive COVID tests so far, but has a plan in place should the need arise.
Despite the new restrictions, he said residents and staff are doing well.
"I think it's just being conscious of being really kind and caring to one another," Anderson said. "I think that could be applied for the greater community as well, just to be there for one another during these challenging times."
The restrictions will be reviewed in two weeks, according to an SHA news release.
Proof of vaccination for visitors and family support people is still required.