Ontario scraps mandatory five-day isolation rules for people with COVID-19
Published Wednesday, August 31, 2022 2:01PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 31, 2022 2:01PM EDT
Ontario has scrapped its mandatory five-day isolation rule for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 as part of an “all respiratory virus approach” to an expected rise in general illnesses in the fall.
Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said Wednesday individuals who feel ill should isolate while symptomatic and return to work or school 24 hours after their symptoms come to an end.
Masks should be worn for about 10 days after an individual ends their voluntary isolation period, Moore said, but it will not be mandatory to do so.
“Normally, we'll see the respiratory virus season start around the end of September and hence this advice is being put in play to guide that risk,” Moore told reporters at a news conference announcing the expansion of COVID-19 boosters for young children.
“So this is an all respiratory virus approach because the complexity will be increasing this year, given that other respiratory viruses will be circulating in our schools and workplaces.”
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When asked if individuals who test positive on a rapid or PCR test, but who are no longer symptomatic, can go out in public, Moore said yes with “additional precautions.”
“The caveat is that we also want to maintain high levels of protection through ongoing, keeping up to date with all of our vaccinations, but in particular keeping up to date with the COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.
Moore said the advice being provided on Wednesday is for the general public, and that further specifications may be released for workplaces, such as long-term care, that are at higher risk.
Those who are ill are being asked to refrain from visiting these kind of vulnerable settings.
Schools, however, do not appear to be on the list of vulnerable settings being considered for further COVID-19 recommendations. Moore said an improvement in ventilation, as well as cleaning policies within those facilities, will help reduce the spread of the virus.
He urged people to wear masks continually for 10 full days if ill, and that this precaution in addition with the other measures “should decrease the risk of all respiratory viruses in our communities.”
Moore said the Ontario government has taken a cautious approach to changing the guidelines, citing other provinces that have already adopted “a generic approach to all respiratory viruses,” such as Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
“We wanted to get further along in the seventh wave before we put this in place and also had it available to schools to ensure we can dampen down the effect of all respiratory viruses in the classroom and also in the workplace.”
The last time isolation guidelines were changed in Ontario was at the end of December 2021, when Moore shortened the required isolation period from 10 days to five for vaccinated individuals.
As it stands, the new policy applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status.
While Moore is encouraging ill individuals to stay home when they are not feeling well, Ontarians are only covered for three paid sick days under the temporary pandemic program.
The Doug Ford government has not yet said if it plans on making this program permanent.
The program is set to expire in March 2023.