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In recent weeks, new variants of the COVID-19 virus have been identified across the province. Concerns about variants being more contagious than the original strain have resulted in enhanced precautions to prevent unintentional spread of the virus to others. The Ministry of Health has updated three key processes across the province. Effective immediately:
- Household members of individuals who are experiencing symptoms of the virus must isolate until the symptomatic individual receives negative test results or an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider.
- If the symptomatic individual is not tested, they must isolate for 10 days from symptom onset. All household members must isolate for 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
- If the symptomatic individual cannot isolate from the rest of the household, all household members must quarantine for 14 days from the end of the symptomatic individual’s isolation period.
- Household members of high-risk contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, must avoid any non-essential outings or gatherings for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period.
- This means only leaving home for essential reasons such as attending work or school or childcare, doing errands for food and medication, or attending essential medical appointments.
- NEW screening requirements are now in effect for children attending school and daycare. Children must be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If even one symptom of the virus is present (not related to existing medical condition), the child should be tested to rule out COVID-19.
- Household members must isolate until child receives negative test result. If testing is recommended and not completed, child must isolate for 10 days following symptom onset and household members must isolate for 14 days following symptom onset. If household members are unable to isolate from child, they must isolate for 24 days following the child’s symptom onset (child’s isolation period plus 14 days isolation for household member).
- Parents and educators are asked to begin implementing the new one-symptom screening beginning Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
“While necessary, we understand that these new screening, testing, and isolation requirements present challenges for families and individuals who are unable to work from home during their isolation period,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “Please make the responsible choice to seek testing as soon as possible and stay home until you receive results. While the inconvenience is temporary, these measures will help slow the spread in our region for the long term, and keep the vulnerable among us safe until vaccines arrive.”
For more information on the new self-isolation requirements in the HPEPH region, please visit https://hpepublichealth.ca/understanding-self-isolation/