As Wiikwemkoong deals with COVID-19 outbreak, Manitoulin Health Centre tightens entry rules

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As COVID-19 cases surge in the region, the Manitoulin Health Centre is rolling out a mandatory vaccination policy for designated care partners and visitors to both of its sites.

The new restrictions come into effect Dec. 6, the MHC said in a news release Tuesday.

"All designated care partners and visitors to either site (Little Current or Mindemoya) will be required to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 together with government-issued photo ID," the release said.

However, anyone who goes to the hospital for medical reasons will not be asked for their vaccination status unless it is relevant to their care.

"If you are attending for any of those services, the policy does not apply to you," the release said. "Exceptions may be made for those not eligible for vaccination in the case of end of life and persons requiring assistance."

The move comes as residents in Wiikwemkoong are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, declared over the weekend.

As of Monday, a total of five cases are active in the community.

"Our nurses have started the case and contact management process and are currently contacting the close contacts for these new active cases," said a post by Ogimaa Duke Peltier.

"Some of the symptoms identified by the new active cases are nasal congestion, feeling off, feeling more tired than normal, and having the sniffles.

Peltier said the community is reverting to Step 1 of the Easing of Restrictions Plan, which includes the following direction:

- Community members are strongly encouraged to stay home, and only leave for essential purposes. This includes designating one person per household to do the essential shopping.

- Community members are strongly encouraged to refrain from any gatherings, and to stay within your household bubble.

- All community programming and events will be cancelled or postponed unless they can be hosted virtually.

- All businesses and organizations within WUT to implement their outbreak management plan and continue with the health and safety precautions.

- All WBE schools, including the Hub Centre will close and begin remote online learning. The schools will be reaching out to the parents.

Anyone who needs mental health support need can contact the crisis team at 705-348-1937.

At the Manitoulin Health Centre, officials said exceptions to the new policy include:

- Parents/guardians of patients under 18 years of age.

- Designated care partners of patients in labour and delivery.

- Designated Care Partners and visitors of patients who have a life-threatening emergency or a new life-altering or critical illness diagnosis where family presence is vital for the patient, family, or care team.

- Designated care partners and visitors of patients who approaching end of life.

- Designated care partners accompanying patients with communication, language barriers, physical or cognitive impairments.

- All visitors under 12 years of age and not yet eligible for vaccination.

However, the policy does apply to clergy and any traditional supports.