Care homes scrap plans for mid-autumn visits - RTHK
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Care homes scrap plans for mid-autumn visits

2020-09-30 HKT 11:04
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  • Around 300 care home have halted plans to allow elderly care home visits during mid-autumn festival. File photo: RTHK
    Around 300 care home have halted plans to allow elderly care home visits during mid-autumn festival. File photo: RTHK
Joanne Wong reports
The Elderly Services Association said hundreds of care homes have scrapped their plans to allow visits during the mid-autumn festival after a resident in a Yuen Long care home tested preliminary positive for Covid-19.

The association's secretary-general Joe Chan told RTHK's Millennium programme that around 300 care homes originally wanted to let residents meet their loved ones during the festival that's traditionally a day for reunions, after repeated requests by family members.

But he said the care homes have now halted such plans and are instead handing out free mooncakes and fruits for their elderly residents, or arranging for visits to be done over video.

Chan said he understands some family members are eager to meet over mid-autumn, but that the industry was nervous after hearing about the reports of an infection at the Yuen Long Home for the Elderly.

Speaking on the same programme, infectious disease specialist Dr Joseph Tsang said visits to elderly homes can only be gradually resumed when there's zero number of community infections for consecutive days.

Tsang urged the government to investigate the reported infection in the Yuen Long care home as soon as possible, saying that other facilities could also be hit in a similar manner as witnessed during the third wave in July when care home staff and residents got infected.

"The outbreak might not just be one care home, sometimes it can involve one to two care homes in succession because they're related, we have to wait and see if the situation gets worse."

He proposed that there should be strict safety precautions and a monitoring mechanism in place if care home visits are allowed again, such as requiring visitors to make appointments or wear protective clothing during visits.

The comments come after residents at the Yuen Long elderly home had to be evacuated on Tuesday night, because a 71-year-old female resident tested preliminary positive for the new coronavirus.

Meanwhile, sources have told RTHK that the city is expected to report nine new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday.