Ontario changes eligibility for PCR COVID test, isolation reduced for fully vaccinated to 5 days

The Ontario government is changing the criteria around who is eligible for a PCR test to detect COVID-19, and has shortened isolation times for those with symptoms who are fully vaccinated.

Pr. On December 31, PCR testing is only recommended for symptomatic individuals who are hospitalized, in long-term care or nursing homes, health care providers, First Nations, or students and staff, among other high-risk groups.

It is no longer recommended that asymptomatic individuals receive a PCR test, except for those in high-risk settings.

“Members of the general public with mild symptoms are being asked not to seek testing,” the Ontario government said Thursday.

The move comes as the capacity for PCR testing has been strained across the province, where many are unable to order a PCR test or get test results back in time.

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In addition, those who test positive for a rapid antigen test no longer need to confirm that they have COVID-19 through a PCR test.

The isolation period is also reduced for those who are fully vaccinated and children under the age of 12, from 10 days to five days after the onset of symptoms, a step taken by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week.

“These individuals can complete isolation after five days if their symptoms improve for at least 24 hours and all public health and safety measures, such as masking and physical distance, are followed,” the government said.

However, individuals who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised should be isolated in the previous 10-day recommendation.

Click to play video: 'Ontario reduces isolation requirement for COVID-19 positive individuals with symptoms to 5 days'

Ontario reduces the isolation requirement for COVID-19-positive individuals with symptoms to 5 days

Ontario reduces the isolation requirement for COVID-19-positive individuals with symptoms to 5 days

“We are now very aware that we have widespread community activity,” said Ontario Health Chief Dr. Kieran Moore in an update Thursday in response to a cut in PCR testing for the wider population.

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“If you look at the percentage of tests that are positive, it’s almost a third to 40 percent of the tests that are positive in Ontario, and well over 90 percent is Omicron. Further knowledge through that monitoring is not necessary, as in the next six to eight weeks, we can anticipate that we will have widespread community activity of the Omicron variant throughout Ontario. “

Moore said additional monitoring would be provided through hospitals with those hospitalized with COVID-19-related pneumonia. He added that the focus will be on COVID data through hospital admissions and intensive care units rather than just case numbers.

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“Our focus is really on protecting the health care system, protecting the long-term care sector, learning from the last 20 months in terms of protecting the most vulnerable citizens we have,” Moore said. “And that’s our main focus.

“I am aware that people had monitored the total daily number of positive tests closely, but we have to turn around. We know there is ongoing community activity across Ontario, we know we will have high transmission risk.”

Moore also said that seeking a PCR test to go and socialize is “not an appropriate use at the moment. You really should only use it if you develop symptoms.”

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“If we had the capacity, we would offer the test. This is a limited capacity. I do not think anywhere in the world expected the portability of Omicron,” Moore said in response to a Global News question about no longer having to log and report all possible COVID infections.

“If we had the opportunity to test everyone, 14.7 million people, we would have done it when they got sick. But no country in the whole world has that capacity. So this is not a coverup. This is the basic premise of a limited limited resource that we need, “Moore continued.” I do not think anyone is fooled that we do not have widespread community activity throughout Ontario. “

A complete list of those eligible for a PCR test can be found here.

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