Ontario entered a new phase of the pandemic this week, dropping its provincial mask mandate in most public settings.
In early March, the province also revoked its proof of vaccination requirements, meaning patrons no longer have to show they have been fully vaccinated to get into non-essential environments such as restaurants, cinemas, gyms and more.
As restrictions are lifted and ontarians begin to venture outside and gather more often, you may need a refresher on what to do if you are infected or exposed to COVID-19.
CTV News Toronto has compiled some of the most common questions about COVID-19 as the province enters a new reopening phase:
What should I do if I start to feel sick?
If you start to feel sick, you can use the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Although this tool does not provide official diagnosis, it will provide guidance on the next steps.
If you start to experience COVID-19 symptoms, isolate yourself. You should try to seek out a COVID-19 test.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- fever and / or chills;
- OR a cough;
- OR shortness of breath;
- OR a decrease or loss of taste or odor;
OR two or more of:
- runny nose / stuffy nose
- extreme fatigue
- sore throat
- muscle pain / joint pain
- gastrointestinal symptoms (ie vomiting or diarrhea)
Can I get COVID-19 again if I have already received it?
Yes, COVID-19 re-infections are possible but less likely than initial infections.
While re-infection was less common with the Delta variant, early studies suggest that mild Omicron cases do not provide sufficient immunity to prevent future infections.
Where can I get a COVID-19 test in Ontario and what type should I use?
For a majority of the general public, the most accessible COVID-19 test is to acquire a rapid antigen test.
From early February, the Ontario government began distributing rapid tests free of charge at participating pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and grocery stores.
To find the closest location to you who are handing out tests, use the provincial quick test location.
If you test positive on a quick test, you do not need to order a lab test to confirm the result.
If you need instructions on how to manage a quick test, click here.
Can I still book a PCR test in Ontario?
In late 2021, Ontario restricted access to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 tests or laboratory tests in an effort to conserve resources.
From now on, you must experience at least one COVID-19 symptom and fall into one of the following categories to qualify for a PCR test:
- a patient-facing healthcare professional
- a patient in an emergency department, at the discretion of the treating clinician
- an employee, volunteer, resident, hospitalized patient, important care provider, or visitor in a high-risk setting
- a home and local care worker
- a Provincial Demonstration School and hospital school staff member
- a person living with a patient-facing healthcare professional and / or a worker in the highest risk environments;
- an outpatient being considered for COVID-19 treatment
- an outpatient requiring a diagnostic test for clinical treatment
- a temporary foreign worker living in a parish environment
- lower house or experiencing homelessness
- a rescuer, including firefighters, police and paramedics
- an elementary or secondary student or education staff who has received a PCR self-collection kit, if available through your school;
- instructed by your local public health unit
If you fall into one of the following categories, you qualify for the PCR test, regardless of whether you experience symptoms:
- are from a First Nation, Inuit or Métis community or identify themselves as First Nation, Inuit or Métis or live with someone who does
- travel to First Nation, Inuit or Métis communities to work
- being hospitalized or transferred to or from a hospital or community center
- is a close contact in a confirmed or suspected outbreak in a high-risk setting or other environment as instructed by the local public health unit;
- has written prior approval for medical services outside the country from the General Manager of OHIP or is a caregiver for a person who does
- is in a hospital, long-term care, nursing home or other parish environment, as directed by public health units, provincial guidance or other directives
What if I can not safely acquire a test?
The Ministry of Health asks those who experience symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and isolate themselves for 14 days regardless of test results.
How long should I isolate if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you are fully vaccinated or under 12 years of age, isolate yourself for five days.
If you are over 12 years of age and have not been fully vaccinated or you are immunocompromised, you must isolate for at least 10 days.
In either case, if you reach the end of your isolation period and still have symptoms, continue to isolate until your symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if the symptoms affect the digestive system) and you have not fever. .
Should I report my positive result of COVID-19?
If you test positive on a quick test, you do not need to report your results. If you test positive on a PCR test, your public health unit should report your results to you.
Should I call a doctor if I test positive COVID-19?
You do not necessarily need to call a doctor for a positive COVID-19 result, especially if you do not experience symptoms.
However, the Ministry of Health recommends visiting a clinical assessment center if you develop symptoms and you are at high risk for serious illness, or if you have symptoms that cannot be safely monitored at home but do not experience severe symptoms that require urgent treatment. .
If you develop severe symptoms that require medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911.
Who should I tell when I have been tested positive?
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, tell your close contacts that they have been exposed.
The Ministry of Health defines a close contact as “anyone you were less than two meters away from for at least 15 minutes,” or “several shorter periods of time without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first. first.”
Can I access COVID-19 medical treatments if I test positive?
On January 17, oral antiviral Paxlovid was approved by Health Canada and shortly thereafter, Ontario received limited amounts from the federal government.
According to the Ministry of Health, patients must start Paxlovid within five days of symptom onset for treatment to be effective.
A complete course of treatment is three pills twice daily for five days in a row.
Currently, only the following groups with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis are eligible to receive Paxlovid:
- immunocompromised persons aged 18 years and over regardless of vaccine status
- unvaccinated persons aged 60 years and over
- unvaccinated First Nation, Inuit and Métis persons aged 50 and over
- unvaccinated persons aged 50 years and over with one or more risk factors
If you think you may be eligible, contact your primary care provider or Teleheath Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Clinical assessment centers can also help determine eligibility for Paxlovid.
Should I isolate myself if someone in my house is tested positive?
If you have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days and have no symptoms, or if you are over 18 and have received either two or three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, you do not need to isolate.
The Ministry of Health instead recommends self-monitoring for symptoms for 10 days. It is also recommended to wear a mask when in public, maintain social distance and not visit high-risk people.
If you start to experience symptoms, isolate yourself. If you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, isolate yourself regardless of the presence of symptoms.
Should I isolate myself if I am exposed to COVID-19 outside my household?
If you are exposed to a COVID-19 case outside of your household, monitor for symptoms for 10 days.
If you start to experience symptoms, then you need to isolate yourself.
What should I do if I am exposed and I live or work in a high risk place?
If you do not experience symptoms, you do not need to isolate yourself – but the Ontario government asks you to inform your place of work or residence and not attend the specific place for 10 days.
The Ministry of Health defines high-risk settings as:
- hospitals and healthcare environments, including complex continuing care facilities and acute care facilities
- brings together residential environments, such as long-term care and nursing homes, First Nations nursing homes, group homes, shelters, hospices, temporary foreign workers, penitentiary institutions, and provincial demonstration schools and hospital schools
- home and care environments