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HPEPH implementing additional changes to COVID-19 case and contact management process in response to Omicron variant, surge in local cases

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Dec. 21, 2021

In order to respond to increasing COVID-19 case rates, while continuing to administer COVID-19 vaccines, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is making necessary changes to the process of notifying individuals who test positive for COVID-19, as well as their high-risk contacts. These changes align with provincial guidance to respond to the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant and protect the most vulnerable populations.

It will not always be possible for representatives of public health to contact individuals who test positive within 48 hours. All individuals who seek testing should monitor for their test results online to receive their results as quickly as possible.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 please notify your high-risk contacts as soon as you become aware.
  • High-risk contacts can be provided a notification letter available at hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-information.

The HPEPH case and contact management team is focusing efforts on responding to cases that arise in the highest risk settings including congregate care settings, retirement and long-term care homes, schools, child care settings and hospitals and acute healthcare settings. Cases that arise in other settings will be managed by the provincial workforce.

If you test positive for COVID-19:

Do not wait for a phone call from public health. Isolate immediately.

Review information for individuals who test positive for COVID-19, available at hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-information.

You must self-isolate a minimum of 10 days from the time you developed symptoms (or from the date of your test, if no symptoms were present).

It may take several days for you to receive a call from a representative of public health. The call may appear as an “unknown number”. Please answer the call if you have tested positive for COVID-19, as additional helpful information will be provided.

You must immediately notify your household members and high-risk contacts of your positive COVID-19 status as many will need to isolate.

  • Household members include anyone who lives in your residence – whether you have had close contact with them or not.
  • A high-risk contact, also known as a close contact, is someone who has been in contact with you during your contagious period (48 hours prior to when your symptoms started or your test that led to a positive result – whichever came first – and up to 10 days after symptom onset. High-risk contact is defined as:
    • Any face-to-face contact within 2 metres for a cumulative duration of at least 15 minutes or longer (even if wearing a mask).
    • Any face-to-face or physical contact while one or both people were not wearing a mask and within 2 metres for any length of time.
    • Received or provided any service or interaction without appropriate and consistent use of PPE (medical mask and eye protection) for any length of time.
  • There are isolation requirements for household contacts and high-risk contacts of individuals who test positive (see below).
  • Please follow the guidance on the Information for those who test positive and their contacts and Requirements for self-isolation web pages.

If you are a household member or high-risk contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:

Household members of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate regardless of vaccination status.

Many high-risk contacts will be required to isolate, regardless of vaccination status. The following individuals will need to isolate if they have had high-risk contact with an individual who has tested positive:

  • Household members of the person who has tested positive (regardless of vaccination status).
  • High-risk contacts who work or attend a high-risk setting* (regardless of vaccination status).
  • High-risk contacts who are not fully vaccinated.

If you are identified as a high-risk contact and meet the criteria above:

  • You must isolate immediately and seek testing.
  • Review information for high-risk contacts of people who test positive, available at hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-information.
  • Get tested immediately, even if you do not have any symptoms and/or are fully vaccinated. Testing information is available on the HPEPH website on the COVID-19 Testing and Test Results page. Due to an increase in cases, it can take several days to receive an appointment for testing. 
  • While you wait for your test results you MUST self-isolate. Check for your test results online. High-risk contacts of individuals who test positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days, regardless of test results.
  • Do not wait for a representative of public health to contact you.

Due to high case volumes, only high-risk contacts who were exposed in a high-risk setting will be notified by public health. All other high-risk contacts will not be contacted by a representative of public health unless you test positive.

If you are fully vaccinated and do not meet the criteria listed above, you are not required to isolate unless you develop symptoms, but should seek testing and avoid close contact with vulnerable individuals.

* If you work in a high-risk setting and are identified as a high-risk contact, you must isolate immediately, notify your employer, and follow any direction provided by your employer. Your employer will provide guidance regarding your return to work. If you do not receive guidance from your employer, isolate for 10 days regardless of your vaccination status. High-risk settings include hospitals and health care settings (complex continuing care facilities and acute care facilities), congregate living settings (long-term care, retirement homes, group homes, shelters, hospices, post-secondary dormitories, temporary foreign worker setting, correctional institutions), schools, child care centres, camps.

If you operate a workplace where an individual has tested positive:

You will not be contacted by HPEPH (with the exception of high-risk settings). All other workplaces that are not high risk settings should visit the COVID-19 guidance for business and workplace web page for directions.

Immediate action is required to slow the spread of the virus in the community.

  • Limit your close contacts. Consider how many people you would have to notify if you test positive – and make responsible choices. You can limit your close contacts by:
    • Staying home as much as possible.
    • Avoid social gatherings and limit visiting others or having visitors
    • Taking physical distancing seriously. Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with and wear a mask in indoor spaces.
  • Screen for symptoms of COVID-19 daily.
  • Stay home, isolate, and get tested if you have any symptoms, even mild symptoms.
  • Get fully vaccinated when you are eligible.
  • Get your third dose or booster as soon as you are eligible and can make an appointment.

Getting your COVID-19 vaccine

There is currently a very high demand for COVID-19 vaccines in the region. HPEPH is working diligently with community partners to administer the COVID-19 vaccines that are available for the region. Residents are asked to be patient, and continue checking various options for COVID-19 vaccine availability. As additional shipments are received, availability will increase both at community vaccination clinics and at local pharmacies. HPEPH is working to increase appointment availability and will provide updates as new appointments become available.

For updates on availability, follow HPEPH on Facebook and Twitter. To check current availability:

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 visit hpePublicHealth.ca.

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Media contacts

Emily Tubbs
etubbs@hpeph.ca

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
mhyland@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.

Interested in receiving monthly updates about HPEPH programs and services?

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Symptoms or exposure? Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.