Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, stressed that we need to "prepare for different potential futures" of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We know that waning immunity does occur and we need to prepare for any potential unusual variants that might come along. At the same time though, we do need to lay out a strategy and a plan towards moving back to something that is nearer normality."Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer
"I think one thing that many experts do agree on is COVID-19 is going to stay and the coronavirus will continue to be in the human population, so how do we manage that going forward. I think it’s quite reasonable to think that we need to plan for the next respiratory virus season as well."
She also commented on the varied COVID-19 isolation periods mandated by provinces, which caused some confusion earlier this week.
"There was very little information, as you can imagine, coming out at the beginning of the Omicron wave and then there were a few studies that were being published, which suggested that the periods during which you can shed the virus and can potentially communicate is not that different from other variants," Dr. Tam said.
"Having said that, there’s a massive number of cases and this has a great impact on our society, on our critical services, on the health care service itself, so provinces, recognizing the data that we have, made decisions from a policy perspective…to adjust some of the policies."
This comes after Dr. Tam indicated that the Omicron variant can be infectious for up to 10 days, while many provinces moved to five or seven day isolation periods.
"The studies that we've managed to amass, including a recent one for Japan, suggests that the period of communicability is no shorter than the other variants, because the viral shedding and the viral load doesn't decrease really until day 10 following symptom onset or specimen collection after the diagnosis," Dr. Tam said at a health committee meeting on Tuesday, according to The Canadian Press.
The Public Health Agency of Canada still recommends a 10-day isolation period from the onset of symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test results, whichever is first.