Nova Scotia Health, IWK to require patients and visitors to wear masks in health care facilities

Nova Scotia Health and the IWK Health Centre will be requiring patients and visitors to wear a non-medical mask when entering hospitals and other health care facilities, beginning Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

“We take the health and safety of our patients, employees and physicians very seriously. Requiring people to wear masks adds another layer of protection that will help reduce transmission of COVID-19 and is consistent with evolving evidence and advice from public health experts,” said Nova Scotia Health president and CEO Dr. Brendan Carr.

IWK CEO Dr. Krista Jangaard said the two organizations have been monitoring the situation closely and are constantly evolving in their response to COVID-19. 
“As we plan for a potential second wave, we want to ensure a consistent approach across all hospitals and health centres in the province,” she said.

This requirement does not apply to hospital inpatients, children under two years of age, or staff working in non-clinical areas, once they have arrived in their workspace where they are able to maintain physical distance from others. Staff and physicians working in clinical areas are already required to wear a procedure mask.

Patients, visitors and essential support people wearing their own non-medical mask need to continue to maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others where possible, continue frequent hand washing, practice respiratory etiquette, and avoid touching their mask and face.

“We must also stress that masks are not a replacement for physical distancing,” said Dr. Shelly McNeil, chief of infectious diseases, Nova Scotia Health, Central Zone.

“Physical distancing and good hand hygiene are the most effective ways to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and must continue to be practiced while in our facilities.”

All visitors will continue to be screened upon entry. Visitors with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, on self-isolation or being tested for COVID-19 due to recent travel or potential exposure to the virus will not be permitted to enter.

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