Ontario limits COVID-19 testing eligibility and changes isolation guidelines starting Friday


Published December 30, 2021 at 3:57 pm


Sweeping changes are coming to testing, isolation and indoor capacity requirements due to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the province.

Some high-risk Ontarians are also now eligable for fourth doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said the province will begin limiting who can access publicly funded PCR tests on Friday to ensure supply can keep up with demand.

Starting Friday, PCR testing will be limited to only certain high-risk individuals, like healthcare workers and residents in the high-risk settings and vulnerable populations.

Members of the public with mild symptoms are asked not to seek testing, and a full list of eligible individuals can be found here.

RELATED: Ontario study of COVID-19 cases suggests Omicron not as severe as Delta

The province has also made fourth doses of mRNA COVID-19 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.

The forth does guidelines are based on the recommendations from the Ontario Immunization Advisory Committee.

Ontario is also changing required COVID-19 isolation periods.

Vaccinated individuals and children under 12 with COVID-19 are required to isolate for five days following the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Household contacts are required to isolate for five days, and non-household contacts are required to self-monitor for ten days.

Individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised are required to isolate for 10 days.

People who work or live in high-risk health care settings are recommended to return to work 10 days from their last exposure, symptom onset, or from their date of diagnosis.

The province also announced that the holiday break for classes is being extended to Wednesday, scrapping plans to resume classes on Monday in much of the province.

More indoor seating capacity limits are coming in concert venues, arenas and theatres starting on Friday. Capacity limits will be limited to 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, depending on which is smaller.

The changes come as the province set another record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday with 13,807 new cases reported and eight more deaths. The previous record was just one day earlier with a count of 10,436 new cases and three new deaths on Wednesday.

Moore said doubling time for the Omicron variant is approximately three days, but the province has not seen a corresponding rapid increase in hospitalizations due to the variant’s spread.

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