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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Understanding Self-Isolation Requirements for High and Low Risk Contacts

Page last updated: August, 2021

When do I need to self-isolate? Am I legally required to self-isolate?

The province released updated Testing and Clearance Guidance effective August 11, 2021 that guides isolation requirements of individuals in the following situations:

SituationIsolation Requirements
Individuals with a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 (have travelled out of the country OR have had close contact with positive case) who are not yet fully immunized (e.g. it has been less than 14 days since receiving second dose)Must isolate regardless of test result for a minimum of 10 days from their last exposure.
Individuals with a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 (have travelled out of the country OR have had close contact with positive case) who are fully immunized (e.g. it has been 14 days or more since receiving second dose) and who have symptoms.Must isolate for 10 days. If test is negative self-isolation can be discontinued once symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms).
Individuals with a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 (have travelled out of the country OR have had close contact with positive case) who are fully immunized (e.g. it has been 14 days or more since receiving second dose) and who do not have any symptoms.Individuals are not required to self-isolate, but should self-monitor, follow public health measures like wearing a mask in public, and self-isolate and get tested if symptoms develop.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19, as well as individuals who are advised to seek COVID-19 testing who do not get testedMust isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started, AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND until they do not have a fever for 24 hours (without use of medication).
Individuals who are advised to seek testing and are waiting for test resultsMust isolate until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND until they do not have a fever for 24 hours (without use of medication).
Household members of a person experiencing symptoms of the virusIndividuals who are not fully immunized must isolate until the symptomatic individual receives negative COVID-19 test results or an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider. Individuals who are fully immunized are not required to self-isolate.
Household members of high-risk contacts of COVID-19Must avoid any non-essential outings or gatherings for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period, may continue to go to work/school. (This guidance is based on the assumption that the household members are able to effectively isolate from the high-risk contact in their household).
Individuals with severe illness or severe immune-compromise who receive positive test resultsMust isolate for 20 days from symptom onset AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND until they do not have a fever for 24 hours (without use of medication).

Self isolation is a legal requirement. The minimum fine for violating self-isolation orders is $750.

I am required to self-isolate. What does this mean?

Here are the things to remember when you need to self-isolate:

  • Stay at home – do not go to work, school, shopping, or leave your home/property for any reason other than COVID-19 testing or emergency medical care.
  • Stay in a separate room, away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate washroom, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, unless they are essential.
  • Wear a mask when you cannot maintain a physical distance of 2-metres from others in your home.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing items that can come into contact with saliva, such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, cups/bottles, towels, bedding
  • Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in your home, including bathroom and toilet surfaces, at least once a day.
  • You may not leave your property during your self-isolation period. Please consider asking a friend/family member for help, using online shopping, or a food delivery service to get your groceries/essentials delivered to you.

How does public health identify high risk contacts, and what do household members of high-risk contacts need to do?

  • Every individual who tests positive for COVID-19 is investigated by public health, to identify others that they have had contact with. All contacts are reviewed by public health staff to determine if they are at a high risk or low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Public health uses an abundance of caution when identifying individuals that may have been at risk of exposure to a positive case. The public can be reassured that the investigation process always errs on the side of caution to prevent further spread of the virus.
  • High risk contacts are:
    • individuals who have been in close contact with the positive case during their contagious period (48 hours prior to symptom onset, and up to 10 days after symptom onset)
    • advised to isolate for 10 days following their potential date of exposure. This isolation ensures they are not interacting with others if they have been exposed to the virus.
  • Household members of high-risk contacts must avoid any non-essential outings or gatherings for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period. If anyone in the household develops symptoms of COVID-19, all household members must isolate until the individual receives negative test results.
  • Low risk contacts are:
    • individuals who have had confirmed or potential brief or distanced interaction with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
    • required to self monitor for symptoms, and seek testing if symptoms develop. Unless symptoms develop, they can continue to attend work or school, while practicing regular public health precautions.
  • Household members of low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, or if the low-risk contact develops symptoms.

What if I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

If you have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine and it has been 14 days since your last dose you are considered fully vaccinated. Close (high-risk) contacts of COVID-19 who are fully vaccinated have different isolation requirements from those who are not fully vaccinated.

Typically, fully vaccinated individuals who have had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 do not need to isolate but must self monitor for symptoms for 10 days from their last known exposure. If symptoms occur, these individuals must isolate immediately, seek COVID-19 testing and remain in isolation until they obtain a negative result.

If you are fully vaccinated and have received a text message or letter from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health advising you of a COVID-19 exposure and required isolation, please call 613-966-5500 extension 669 and leave a message with your full name and phone number, explaining your situation. A Communicable Disease Investigator will be in touch with you within 24-48 hours to review your isolation requirements. Please remain in isolation until you are contacted by HPEPH and provided with further direction.

My child has been identified as a high-risk contact, because someone in their school/child care cohort tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

When a positive case of COVID-19 has been identified in your child’s classroom or bus cohort, your child will be considered a high risk/close contact of COVID-19 due to their potential close contact with the individual who tested positive. Your child’s school will distribute a letter with information about what to do next. You will also receive a survey to complete from public health by text. Please ensure your child’s school has your current cell phone number in their records. If you do not have a cell phone or the number is not on file with the school, you will receive a follow up phone call from public health within 48 hours. You will receive a text message or phone call from public health in the next 48 hours with additional information and guidance.

  1. Have your child self-isolate for 10 days after their last potential exposure to the person who tested positive.  
  2. Have your child tested for COVID-19. Public health will advise recommended dates for testing, based on your child’s potential exposure. Information for local assessment centres can be found at hpePublicHealth.ca.
  3. Follow directions for symptom monitoring, and extra precautions for household members of high-risk contacts (see above).

HPEPH understands it may be difficult or impossible for young children to self-isolate. For more information, please review Public Health Ontario’s resource about caring for children who need to self-isolate.

I received a notification from my child’s school/child care that someone at the location has tested positive for COVID-19. My child is not a high-risk contact. What should I do?

If someone at your child’s school/child care tests positive for COVID-19, HPEPH will work with the location to identify who has had close contact with the positive case. High risk contacts will typically be provided with a letter on behalf of public health, with more guidance about what to do next, followed by a text/phone call from public health. If your child has not received a letter, text, or phone call from public health advising they are a high-risk contact, your child can continue regular activities.

Your child’s school will provide or post a letter with information for school community members that will advise to follow the directions provided to low risk contacts (see above). As always, please continue to monitor your child and all other household members for symptoms of COVID-19. If any symptoms are present, even mild ones, stay home and seek testing. Please remember that all household members of anyone who has symptoms should stay home until the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result or alternate diagnosis.

I have been identified as a high-risk contact, but I am an essential health care worker. What should I do?

Public Health will provide you with specific guidance for your situation. Health Care Workers who are identified as high-risk contacts are required to self-isolate. However, certain individuals may be identified as essential health care workers. Essential workers deemed to be critical to operations in their organization may continue working with strict isolation and infection control precautions in place. To learn more about self-isolation while working, please review Public Health Ontario’s recommendations for Self-Isolation While at Work (for Essential Health Care Workers) and/or contact your workplace.

Where do I find information on quarantine requirements for travellers entering Canada?

Please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice for current information.

I have a complaint about someone not complying with the federal quarantine requirements. Who should I call?

Please report this by calling the federal COVID-19 hot-line at 1-833-784-4397.

Resources for Self-Isolation:

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 who have not yet had a first dose, or those who meet the minimum second dose interval are now eligible to attend HPEPH walk-in clinics. To view the schedule, visit the Booking and Eligibility Page.

If you attended a clinic and did not receive an email copy of your vaccination receipt you can download a copy off the provincial booking site at covid19.ontariohealth.ca.

PHARMACY-BASED VACCINATIONS

Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 can also receive their vaccination at participating local pharmacies. Please visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations for location and registration information.

CURRENT RESTRICTIONS IN HPEPH

On Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario moved to Step 3  of the the Roadmap to Reopen. We must all continue to follow the public health measures, advice and restrictions. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people in Step 3, and distancing must be maintained. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO COVID-19?

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 10 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.