New residents at homes for the elderly will be quarantined for 14 days and staff will have their temperature taken twice daily. 

Meanwhile, residents who need to be admitted to hospital will be quarantined for five days once they return to the home.  

These are among a set of measures that the government issued on Thursday to help curb the spread of COVID-19, after several coronavirus cases were traced to homes for the elderly. Residents are only being allowed out for medical care or treatment. 

The new protocol, drafted by the Social Care Standards Authority, and the health and family ministries, also calls on homes to be equipped with the necessary technologies to allow virtual communication between residents and their relatives. 

Residents and staff should be swabbed “more frequently” and employees are being urged to “be responsible in their personal life”. 

Proper enforcement will ensure that staff members wear a mask at all times and maintain adequate hand hygiene, the government said.

The influenza vaccine will be made available to all residents and staff.

Visiting the elderly

Each home for the elderly should take its own necessary precautions and people are being urged not to visit their relatives if they are feeling unwell, the authorities said. 

“It is important to wear a mask or a visor and to avoid all physical contact. Visitors should communicate with their relatives from behind a screen, and they should keep their distance from the residents. 

“Visitors should sanitise their hands before and after each visit and the room where they meet should be disinfected between each visit.”

If any visitors provide their relatives with a packed lunch, this should be preserved in a container that can be wiped clean, is sealed or disposable.

Food should not be handed directly to the elderly relatives, but passed on to staff, who will then give it to the residents. 

Activities at homes for the elderly

While the authorities called for frequent activities at the homes, they said these needed to be carried out in a safe manner.

Apart from wearing a mask and washing their hands, staff members need to frequently sanitise any visors they wear during such activities. 

Residents should keep to their ‘bubble’ and not mingle with others on different floors or in different wards.

Homes should also identify a hairdressing area that allows for social distancing, while hairdressers need to wear personal protective equipment. Again, the authority urged for enforcement.

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