Though it may feel like the COVID times are finally long behind us with daily life now essentially back to normal, the virus is still making its way through the community as it reaches endemic status.
While businesss have long been open as usual, events are back in full force, and masks were ditched in virtually all settings months ago. Transit and healthcare systems, among other things, continue to be quite significantly impacted as staff are forced to take time off work if they test positive.
But on Wednesday, for the first time in a long time, the province released new guidance for those who fall ill with the ‘vid as we approach autumn — and the reactions thus far are not positive in the slightest.
In an update this afternoon, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore announced that the recommended quarantine time for those with the virus is no longer five days, as it has been since the end of last year — it is now simply when the individual has seen their symptoms improving for at least 24 hours.
This goes not only for confirmed COVID cases, but anyone with any type of symptoms of illness, seeing as PCR testing is no longer widely available and rapid tests are not always on-hand or accurate.
Dr Moore wants ppl to wear a mask though for ten days after start of symptoms. #onpoli
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) August 31, 2022
Getting more granular, Moore said that anyone with a fever should stay home until it is gone completely; anyone with respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose) should stay home until they have been getting better for at least 24 hours; and anyone with gastrointestinal symptoms should stay home until they have been getting better for at least 48 hours.
After this, people are okay to go back to school or work.
To be clear, this means “if they have been improving but are STILL contagious”.
— David Harrison (@dw_harrison) August 31, 2022
The province is also advising that masks be worn in public for 10 days after the onset of any symptoms of sickness, and that non-essential contact with vulnerable people should be avoided during this time, especially any visits to long-term care homes.
These points also pertain to anyone who is a close contact of a case, who should self-monitor for symptoms of their own, but do not need to isolate if they don’t have any.
Though these orders are in line the general trends and advice of health experts and governments worldwide as we continue to live with the virus, many online are wondering about how this will impact spread, since people may still technically test positive if their symptoms are improving and could potentially still be contagious.
Many are also hesitant to believe that people will continue to mask for 10 days as asked.
“This is why COVID will never be gone,” one person said in response to the news on Twitter.
Really!!!?? Would it not be safer for everyone for the person to stay home until testing negative – can we trust that people will wear their mask for the required 10 days. Seriously!!!
— Mary Anne Peacock(she/her) (@MaryAnnePeacock) August 31, 2022
In his briefing, Moore added that we are in now in the seventh wave of COVID — for those who are even still counting at this point — which has plateaued, at least for now.
But, he said that “as we start spending more time indoors this fall, we can expect to see another increase in COVID-19 transmission. We are also approaching the time of year when other respiratory viruses increase in circulation.”
His main three suggestions going into this season are to continue to wear a mask when it is right for you, stay up-to-date on immunizations including the COVID and flu shot, and to stay home when you are sick.