People with COVID-19 should take individual responsibility, says Windsor-Essex top doctor

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The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit office on Ouellette Avenue is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit office on Ouellette Avenue is shown in a file photo. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Following the dropping of isolation requirements for people with COVID-19 in Ontario, the top doctor in Windsor-Essex says people who test positive for COVID-19 have "important responsibilities" to protect others.

"It's for the province to formulate public health policy of this nature," Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health for the region, said at a media briefing on Thursday.

"But on an individual level, I would advise people that if you've tested positive for COVID, you're likely to be infectious for a 10-day period and during that period, you should do everything you can to prevent other people from getting sick."

Those steps include staying home when sick, wearing a mask consistently and staying away from those who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly or those with significant medical problems, he said.

On Wednesday, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the province is halting its five-day isolation requirement and moving away from COVID-19-specific guidance in favour of an "all-virus approach," meaning the new isolation guidelines will apply to other illnesses such as the flu as well.

Under the new guidance, anyone with symptoms of respiratory illness should stay home until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours. Those with a fever should stay home until it has resolved. After isolating at home, wear a mask in public for 10 days since the onset of symptoms.

The full list of guidelines is available here.

Nesathurai said he is concerned about the fall given that not enough people in this community are up to date on their vaccinations.

"The fall of the beginning is when the flu season starts, more people are indoors and we have both the challenge of the flu and of COVID and of more people indoors and of a health system that ...has strained resources," he said.

He said, however, that he was not considering introducing additional public health measures over and above the provincial guidance.

Nesathurai said he encouraged workplaces and institutions to adopt more cautious policies around COVID-19 isolation. He also encouraged the public to get up to date on their vaccines.