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Even mild cold symptoms could be a COVID infection. Please don’t visit your loved ones in hospital unless you feel healthy.
December 30, 2020

Thinking of visiting? When in doubt, stay home

Caregivers and support persons visiting HHS must feel healthy

Feel a tickle in your throat or other cold symptoms coming on? Most people who develop a COVID-19 infection experience relatively minor symptoms such as coughing that might come and go, more aches than usual, a sore throat or tiredness. But even such mild symptoms could well be a COVID infection and are contagious.

“Ignoring symptoms that could be COVID is risking the health of our patients as well as the health care workers caring for your loved ones,” says Dr. Dominik Mertz, medical director of infection prevention and control for Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). “As much as you want to visit – and your loved ones in our care want to see you – it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to get tested if symptomatic, be safe and stay home.”

Visitor guidelines

HHS is still allowing entry of caregivers and support persons considered essential in the care of their loved ones, but the number of visitors has been reduced to help keep the virus out of the hospital.

Two essential caregivers/support persons from the patient’s immediate household or main circle of care are permitted to visit inpatients during the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Only one person will be permitted at the patient’s bedside at a time. These two individuals can alternate daily.

“With the overarching goal of maximizing our patients’ well-being, we are balancing the need for visits with the goal to minimize traffic the best we can to provide as safe an environment for our patients and health care workers as possible,” says Mertz.

Visitors must continue to pass screening to enter the hospital which includes reporting any symptoms, however mild, and being prepared to return home if they’re not feeling completely healthy.

Other ways to connect

Wherever possible, consider other ways of connecting with your loved one that don’t involve in-person visits. This can include:

  • Virtual visits using a tablet or mobile phone. Most hospital units have donated tablets for virtual social visits if patients don’t have their own device.
  • A landline phone and Wi-Fi services are available.
  • Sending a note through the hospital’s free email-a-patient service.

Those who feel healthy and choose to visit should clean their hands when they enter the hospital and when they enter and exit the patient’s room.

With a few exceptions, in particular for parents at the HHS McMaster Children’s Hospital, visitors must wear their hospital-issued mask given to them at screening throughout their stay within our buildings, and are not permitted to bring in food or eat and drink in the patient’s room or unit.

Potential COVID symptoms

Do not visit the hospital if you have any potential COVID symptoms, which include but are not limited to:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

If you are feeling sick, contact your family healthcare provider. If you believe you may have COVID, get tested at your nearest assessment centre. For Hamilton, visit

Emergency services remain open. If you are experiencing an emergency, do not delay care.