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Have you been exposed to COVID-19 and Live or Work in a Highest-Risk Setting?

Due to the spread of Omicron variant, the province has changed case and contact practices. You may be told that you are a contact by someone who has symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.

Omicron is now the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in Ontario. Since this strain is very easy to get and spread to others, all cases in Ontario will be treated as potential Omicron cases.

If you have been notified that you have been exposed to someone who has symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 (for example, an individual has advised you that you are a close contact or you have received a notification from the COVID Alert app) it is important you follow these steps to protect yourself and others.

This information is for close contacts exposed to someone who has symptoms or who tested positive for COVID-19 (either by PCR or RAT) and who live or work in a highest risk setting. 

Highest risk settings include:

  • Hospitals (including complex continuing care facilities and paramedic services), home and community care workers and congregate living settings with medically and socially vulnerable individuals, including, but not limited to, Long-Term Care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, correctional institutions, Provincial Demonstration Schools and hospital schools

If you have been notified that you have been exposed to someone who has symptoms or who tested positive for COVID-19 (either by PCR or RAT), it is important you follow these steps to protect yourself and others.


Determine if you need to self-isolate

Self-isolation means not leaving your home or the place you are isolating in for a period of time. Your self-isolation period starts the day you were last exposed or came in to contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

When you are self-isolating, you must isolate away from others in the home and not have visitors come into the home unless for essential reasons, such as home care. During your self-isolation, you cannot attend work, school, extracurricular activities, or go shopping, and can only leave the home to access emergency health care.

If you live in a congregate living setting (for example, long-term care home, retirement home, First Nation elder lodge, group home, shelter, hospices, correctional institution):

    • You should generally self-isolate for 10 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status.
    • Self-isolating means staying in your room or private space and not going to school or work, attend gatherings, or having any visitors. You must isolate away from others in the facility or the space you are living.
    • If COVID-19 symptoms develop, continue to self-isolate, get tested for COVID-19 if you are eligible, and visit Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19? If you have symptoms but are not eligible for testing, assume you have COVID-19 and visit Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and work in a highest-risk setting

      1.  Report your exposure to your work.
        • Report your exposure to your employer(s) and follow any work restrictions
           
        • Close contacts should not be working in highest risk settings for 10 days from last exposure, unless required for critical work shortages.
           
        • Close contacts who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days (based on positive RAT or molecular test results), are not required to self-isolate and can attend work in the highest-risk setting as long as they are currently asymptomatic. These individuals are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days from last exposure.
           
          • If symptoms develop, self-isolate and get tested. Notify your employer(s). Follow information provided in Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19?
      2. Determine if you need to isolate at home
        1. If you have no symptoms, and do not live with a person who has symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 either by PCR or RAT, for 10 days from your last exposure to the COVID-19 or symptomatic person:
          • Close contacts who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days (based on positive RAT or molecular test results), are not required to self-isolate and can attend work in the highest-risk setting as long as they are currently asymptomatic. These individuals are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days from last exposure.
          • If symptoms develop, self-isolate and contact your local assessment centre immediately to schedule a PCR test. Notify your employer(s). Follow information provided in Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19?
        2. If you have no symptoms, and live with a positive/symptomatic person:
          • You should generally self-isolate while the individual with COVID-19 symptoms is isolating, with the following exceptions:
            •  You have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days
            • You are 18+ and have received their booster dose
            • You are under 18 years old and are fully vaccinated
          • Household members who do not meet the above criteria must self-isolate for the same amount of time as the positive/symptomatic person.  If a household member is immunocompromised and does not meet the above criteria, they should self-isolate for 10 days after the last exposure to the positive/symptomatic person.
             
          • If you do not develop symptoms and self-isolation is complete after 5 days or if self-isolation is not required, for a total of 10 days after the last exposure to the COVID-19 case or symptomatic individual, you must:
          • Self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19.
            • Wear a well-fitted mask in public (including schools and child care, unless under 2 years of age), physical distance and maintain other public health measures if leaving home.
            • Avoid participating in activities where mask removal would be necessary (for example, dining out)
            • NOT visit any highest risk settings or individuals who may be at higher risk of illness (i.e. seniors or immunocompromised) 
          • If symptoms develop, continue to self-isolate and get tested. Notify your employer(s). Follow information provided in Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19?
      3. Watch for symptoms
          • Check for COVID-19 symptoms daily for 10 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 (list of COVID-19 symptoms).
          • If symptoms develop:
            • Self-isolate if not already isolating.
            • Get tested.
            • Notify your employer(s).
            • Tell household members and advise them to visit Have you been exposed to COVID-19?
            • Follow information provided in Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19?
      4. Go for testing when indicated
          • If you develop symptoms, contact your local assessment centre to schedule testing.
          • The Porcupine Health Unit may provide further guidance to the highest-risk setting on recommended testing should an outbreak be suspected.
      5.  
  1. If you test positive for COVID-19:
    1. Self-isolate immediately.
    2. Do not go to work or visit the highest-risk setting.
    3. Tell your employer and follow any additional workplace measures.
    4. Follow information provided on Have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19?
    5. Tell your household members and advise them to visit Have you been exposed to COVID-19?
    6. Notify your close contacts who live/work outside of the highest-risk setting and tell them to visit Have you been exposed to COVID-19?
    7. Public health will only follow up with cases of COVID-19 who live or work in a highest-risk setting.
    8. Public health is working with the highest-risk setting in order to notify close contacts located within the setting.

Other COVID-19 Measures and Precautions

Following discharge from self-isolation, please continue to follow public health measures  when outside your home (work, schools, childcare, etc.) and continue taking precautions to protect you and your loved ones including:

  • getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when eligible,
  • practicing physical distancing of 2 metres,
  • wearing a face covering,
  • proper hand hygiene,
  • and avoiding social gatherings.

Notes

Examples of immunocompromised include: cancer chemotherapy, untreated HIV infection with CD4 T lymphocyte count <200, combined primary immunodeficiency disorder, taking prednisone >20 mg/day (or equivalent) for more than 14 days and taking other immune suppressive medications. Factors such as advanced age, diabetes, and end-stage renal disease are generally not considered severe immune compromise impacting non-test based clearance.