New restrictions mean families with loved ones in care homes will have to make some tough decisions (Picture: AFP)
The health secretary has announced new restrictions on visitors to care homes to protect the most vulnerable from Omicron.
From Wednesday, residents in care homes, as well as those receiving at-home care, will be limited to just three nominated visitors and their main carer.
Booster jabs and testing for staff working in social care will also be expanded.
Announcing the new restrictions Sajid Javid said: ‘We’re expanding our specialist vaccination teams to get more boosters to the vulnerable and those providing care.
‘We are increasing the frequency of staff testing and with a heavy heart we must restrict every resident to just three nominated visitors not including their essential caregiver.
‘This is a difficult step and I understand that it comes with an impact on physical and mental well being, but we know that from previous waves that it’s one of the most effective things that we can do to protect vulnerable residents.’
The new rules, come as Mr Javid revealed the true number of Omicron cases in the UK is already thought to be around 200,000.
Visitor restrictions will come as a blow to families so close to Christmas, especially as many were unable to visit relatives in care last year.
Under previous rules, people could visit their loved ones in care homes, but Plan B will mean many families will be faced with tough decisions over who can visit whom.
Ahead of the anticipated change in rules Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association said the move would take social care ‘almost back to where we were last year’.
In 2020, the strictest guidance for care homes set out a number of rules that had to be followed, including that visits should be limited to a single visitor wherever possible and, visits should take place outside or in a well-ventilated room.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was required and visitors had to be supervised at all times to ensure social distancing and infection control measures were followed.
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