Ontario scraps mandatory period for positive COVID-19 tests

·2 min read

Ontarians will no longer have to follow the mandatory five-day isolation rules for people with COVID-19.

As part of an “all respiratory virus approach” to an expected rise in general illnesses in the fall, Ontario has scrapped its mandatory five-day isolation rule for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said individuals who feel ill should isolate themselves while symptomatic and return to work or school 24 hours after their symptoms end.

“The main guidance now for the fall has to apply to all respiratory illnesses. So we need to have an approach that will decrease the transmission of RSV, influenza and COVID,” Moore said.

Moore confirmed that individuals can return to work or school even when still testing positive for COVID on rapid tests, though he reiterated they should wear a mask for 10 days from symptom onset.

He said the advice applies to the general public, but there will be specific advice for high-risk facilities like long-term and acute care facilities, where 10-day isolation will be maintained.

“It’s absolutely different than two years ago when we didn’t have a vaccination, we didn’t have such a high level of protection in our communities and hybrid immunity, both from vaccination and exposure to these viruses and now that we have effective treatments like Paxlovid,” Moore said.

Despite the mandatory isolation being dropped, Moore said he wanted to be very clear and reminds Ontario to stay at home when they’re sick.

“You should not go back to the school or work environment until your symptoms are resolving and improving for at least 24 hours,” he said.

“Normally, we’ll see the respiratory virus season start around the end of September; hence, this advice is being put in play to guide that risk.”

He clarified this is an all respiratory virus approach because the complexity will increase this year, given that other respiratory viruses will be circulating in schools and workplaces.

Moore said the “caveat” is that everyone should stay up-to-date on their vaccinations, particularly for COVID-19.

“This combination of strategies should be a more pragmatic and practical approach to return to the school with as least disruption that we can have in the school and work environment,” he said.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News