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Province says PCR tests only available to vulnerable, fourth doses available to some and isolation requirements have changed

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Forget about getting a PCR test if you think you have COVID-19.  The Ontario government has announced publicly funded tests will no longer be available to anyone except the vulnerable, even if you test positive on a rapid antigen test.  That goes into effect on December 31st.

“As cases continue to rise at a rapid rate and evidence on the Omicron variant evolves, our response needs to evolve alongside other jurisdictions to ensure those living and working in our highest-risk settings are protected,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Ontario’s cautious approach and high vaccination rates have helped keep hospital and intensive care unit capacity stable to date. Focusing our testing and case and contact management on high-risk settings will help limit transmission, maintain critical workforces, and ensure timely access to PCR testing where it is needed the most. Anyone who is sick should protect their community by staying home.”

Based on the recommendations from the Ontario Immunization Advisory Committee, effective immediately the province will be making fourth doses of mRNA vaccines available to residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges, and other congregate care settings if at least three months, or 84 days, have passed since their third dose.

On top of that, the province is changing isolation requirements.  If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been fully vaccinated and live or work in a low-risk setting you will only be required to isolate for five days.

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People who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised or live or work in high-risk settings are required to isolate for ten days.

The province says the change is being made because the Omicron variant has a reduced risk of severe illness along with Ontario’s high vaccination rate.  According to health officials generally, most healthy people are most infectious two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

Dr. Moore says if you feel unwell, stay at home and isolate for at least five days.  If you test positive you are required to alert your close contacts on your own.

Additionally, the province will limit areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g., sporting events), concert venues; and theatres to 1,000 people or 50-percent whichever is less.  That takes effect on December 31st.

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