February 19, 2021
The presence of COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs) in Ontario has prompted the province to make changes to the guidelines for self-isolation, and changes to the school and childcare screening tool. The variants of concern cause COVID-19 to spread more easily from one person to another, and the goal with these changes is to stop/slow the spread of variants of concern to the greatest extent possible to prevent new COVID-19 infections and mitigate impacts on hospitals and the healthcare system.
Changes for Household Members of High-Risk Contacts
High risk contacts are individuals who have had a close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual and are informed by public health that they are a high risk contact. High-risk contacts must isolate for 14 days from last exposure, even if their test result comes back negative.
All household members of a high-risk contact will be asked to stay at home for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period, except for essential reasons. Essential reasons include attending work or school/childcare, errands for food, medication, and essential medical appointments – leaving the house for these essential reasons is allowable as long as no one in the household develops COVID-19 symptoms. Non-essential visitors must refrain from entering the home during the isolation period.
Changes for Household Members of Symptomatic Individuals: Quarantine
If someone is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the entire household must quarantine, without exemption, even for essential reasons, until a negative test result is received, or an alternate diagnosis is received from a healthcare professional. If the symptomatic person chooses not to get tested, then they must isolate until 10 days have passed from symptom onset and they are feeling better, and their household members must isolate for 14 days from their last close contact with the symptomatic person. If the symptomatic person cannot isolate from the rest of the household, all household members must quarantine for 14 days, starting from the end of the symptomatic individual’s isolation period.
Changes to the School and Childcare Screening Tool
Daily screening for staff, students and children must take place every day before attending school or childcare. The province has updated the school and childcare screening tool.
Staff, students and children with any new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, even those with only one symptom must stay home (self-isolate) without exemption until:
- they receive a negative COVID-19 test result and symptoms are improving with no fever, and they are feeling well enough to go to school, OR
- they receive an alternative diagnosis by a healthcare professional, OR
- it has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.
“These changes, along with the current COVID-19 precautions, are key to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus including any variant that may come into our region,” states Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
The Health Unit recognizes that these changes will affect local individuals, families, and businesses. Information about resources available to provide support can be found on the Health Unit’s website. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 section of our website or call 1-800-660-5853. You can also connect with LGLHealthUnit on Facebook and Twitter for public health updates.
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