The top doctor at the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is providing new guidance to residents as the number of local COVID-19 cases continues to rise.
Dr. Natalie Bocking says the health unit has shifted its focus when it comes to positive tests.
“The difference between now and a couple of months ago is that health unit staff aren’t the ones who are going to be doing the case management and contact tracing for the average community case. Our focus now is on high-risk settings and outbreaks.”
She says there isn’t a health unit in Ontario that has the capacity to track every single case.
“We are receiving more than 100 new cases every day so when we do get a positive lab result, we screen and determine if it is in a high-risk setting or associated with an outbreak. If it is, we do the follow-up, we connect with the facility and assist with contact tracing.”
If a case doesn’t meet the criteria the information is sent to a provincial monitoring system that provides follow-up. There is also no requirement to report a positive rapid antigen test given at home to public health.
Dr. Bocking realizes public health surveillance numbers are not accurate in the sense that not every case is being reported, but she thinks the numbers are realistic in terms of the higher risk settings and vulnerable individuals which is where the focus has shifted to. She also wants to make sure everyone knows the new isolation protocols.
“If you are an average community person not working in a long-term care home or hospital, are fully vaccinated and do not have another medical condition interfering with your immune response and you have symptoms or have tested positive on a rapid test the direction is to isolate at home for five days. Everyone in the home is also required to do the same.”
Dr. Bocking adds that if you aren’t vaccinated and have a medical issue affecting your immunity the requirement is a 10-day isolation. Anyone who has tested positive or suspect they have COVID-19 should reach out to anyone they have been in close contact with in the past 48 hours to let them know you are ill, and contacts should be watching for symptoms as well.
The health unit is trying to ensure the resources on their website at https://www.hkpr.on.ca/ are up to date and hopefully clear for different scenarios people are facing. They also have a call centre but due to the high number of calls may not be able to provide a timely response.