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Media Release: Public Health updating COVID-19 case reporting process in response to changes in provincial testing eligibility

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Jan.10, 2022

Today, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health and Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington Public Health have updated the information reported on their respective COVID-19 Dashboards, in response to recent changes in COVID-19 testing eligibility.

As announced in late December, the Ontario government has made significant changes to the eligibility for publicly funded Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, in order to ensure testing is available for individuals who work in or attend highest risk settings.

Publicly funded PCR testing is now limited to symptomatic high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings. This change came into effect on Dec. 31, 2021 and as a result, positive cases confirmed by PCR testing will underestimate the true number of individuals with COVID-19 in the community. To address this, local public health agencies are changing how COVID-19 cases are reported in their regions. 
 

Changes that have been made to the dashboards include: 

  • Reporting of cases limited to ‘high-risk cases’, and only active and new cases.
  • Discontinued reporting any Variants of Concern (as Omicron is the dominant variant, and only a small number of PCR tests will be screened for Omicron).
  • Discontinued reporting cases by age, source of acquisition, geography, and status of vaccinations, as high-risk cases only represent a segment of the population.
  • Discontinued reporting cases per 100,000 as case rates no longer reflect the rate of the whole population.
  • A new graph that depicts hospitalizations over time.
  • Differentiating between data from before and after the change in testing eligibility on all existing graphs for testing and cases over time, as the time periods are not comparable.
  • Reporting of new outbreaks is limited to high-risk settings such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospitals, and congregate living settings.
  • Addition of third dose vaccine coverage to the vaccinations page.

Going forward, the COVID-19 Dashboards will be updated on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

For more information on changes to the COVID-19 Dashboards and to view high-risk COVID-19 cases by region.

For more information on recommendations for PCR testing and the eligible groups.

All residents are reminded that testing is not needed to know what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19. ALL individuals with symptoms of the virus MUST isolate for a minimum of 5 days, even if you are not eligible for a PCR test.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19, visit hpePublicHealth.ca or  http://www.Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

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Media contacts

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialists
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.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 booster dose 6 mo after previous COVID-19 vaccine. Bivalent booster doses are available to individuals aged 12 and over.

Appointments 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.  

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit Ontario.ca/page/public-health-measures-and-advice.

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.