The Scottish health minister has promised that “every patient” in hospital over the festive period should be able to have at least one visitor, amid fears over the rising levels of coronavirus across Scotland.
Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government was “clear” that visits to hospitals “must continue” after issuing updated guidance to care homes and hospitals this week, but with “precautions”.
Visitors to both hospitals and adult care homes are being asked to take an LFD test before every visit.
While no more than two people can visit a patient at any one time, on wards where there is no current active outbreak in hospitals. Where an active outbreak is being managed, hospitals should allow essential visits only.
The guidance to control the spread of Omicron stresses that residents in adult care homes should continue to have opportunities to connect safely with their loved ones, but no more than two households should meet with a resident at any one time inside the care home.
Residents are also asked to avoid larger gatherings when visiting friends and family out with the care home and staff testing has increased to daily.
As seen before in other parts of the pandemic, named visitors can still be supported to visit residents in care homes with a controlled COVID-19 outbreak if the local Health Protection Team has agreed this can happen.
The Sottish Government have stressed that essential visits in circumstances such as distress or end of life should be compassionately and generously supported at all times.
Mr Yousaf said: “We are clear hospital visiting must continue, with appropriate precautions and protections in place. We are also mindful of the imminent Christmas period and what this means for patients, staff, visitors and communities.
“Our expectation is that every patient in hospital in Scotland over the Christmas and New Year holiday period should be able to benefit from the support of at least one visitor and, wherever it is safely possible, two.
“These additional measures, in recognition of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, are on top of existing infection prevention and control measures. As has always been the case, we expect protections such as hand hygiene, face coverings and distancing to continue to be maintained.
“The additional protective measures for adult care homes aim to balance the current Covid-19 risk and the need to keep people safe in line with clinical advice provided about the risks of Omicron variant of COVID-19 at this time.
“Anyone who visits a hospital or care home should undertake an LFD test before every visit in order to keep patients and residents safe.
“It is vital that everyone works together to enable people to see each other in the lead up to and over the Christmas period so that everyone can spend time with one another safely and with confidence.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank all health and social care staff who have worked tirelessly to enable people, whether patients or care home residents, to stay connected with their loved ones. Their contribution has been immense.”