Coronavirus-free care homes in Scotland to welcome visitors from next week

Facilities that have never had a Covid-19 case or have been free of the virus for 28 days will be able to open up from July 3.

An elderly man
An elderly man

A phased return to visiting at care homes across Scotland has been announced by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

Only essential visits have been permitted so far during lockdown.

Ms Freeman said care homes will be able to permit visitors from July 3 if the home has not a coronavirus case or has been free of the virus for 28 days.

In these homes, residents will be able to receive a single nominated visitor, wearing a face covering and outside.

Physical distancing must be adhered to and extra hygiene precautions will need to be in place.

Ms Freeman told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh: “I know that these necessary restrictions that were placed on care homes and the pause on normal activities and routines have been both difficult and at times distressing for people living in care homes, for their loved ones and for the staff.

“The decision to restrict visitors was not taken lightly, it was informed by scientific and clinical advice and was taken to protect those living and working in care homes and visitors from the risk of infection.

“But significant progress has been made and we have seen improvements in the number of care homes with ongoing infections, to the extent that we can now see a phased return – a cautious, phased return – to visiting in care homes when and where it is clinically safe to do so.”

She said the Scottish Government has published guidance to support the return to visiting and communal activities in care homes.

Ms Freeman added the Scottish Government is working on a phased reintroduction to visiting in hospitals and other healthcare settings and she hopes to announce details of this next week.

Earlier in the briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the estimate of the R number – the average number of people each infectious person passes the virus on to – has not changed this week and remains between 0.6 and 0.8 – and, crucially, below one.

The number of people who are believed to be infectious with Covid-19 is thought to have fallen from 2,900 to around 2,000 in the same period, she added.

Providing the daily update on Scotland’s coronavirus figures, she said 2,482 patients have died after testing positive for Covid-19, up two from 2,480 on Wednesday.

A total of 18,196 people have tested positive, up five from 18,191 the previous day.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This is the second day in a row the number of new cases has been in single figures.

“To put that into context, the last time that happened was March 11. So that is a sign of how far we have come and the progress we have made.”

She told the briefing 826 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a drop of 54 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 18 are in intensive care, a fall of five.

“All of these figures demonstrate again the progress we are all collectively together making in the fight against Covid,” she added.

The First Minister said parts of the US and Australia “look as if they are already dealing with a resurgence of cases” of Covid-19 and urged caution.

“My plea to everybody is please do not forget that the virus is still out there, and it is still highly infectious,” she said.

“A resurgence in cases could force us to postpone our reopening plans or even reimpose some restrictions.

“So we must take care and we must adopt the right mitigating measures at all times.”

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