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Think you have COVID-19 during the Omicron wave? Here’s what to do – Saanich News



Nearly two years into the pandemic, most people know what to do when they feel ill to stop the spread of COVID-19. The highly transmissible new variant has thrown some of the old rules for a loop, however.

Omicron appears to spread faster and more easily than its predecessors, even among the vaccinated.

Here’s what you need to know if you feel like you might have COVID-19 in the age of Omicron.

Of course, public health advice is changing rapidly and varies from place to place. When in doubt, call your local public health unit.

I tested positive on a rapid test. What do I do?

The advice varies a bit based on where you live and how overwhelmed test centres are in your area.

Rapid tests are less accurate than their molecular counterparts, so best practice is to confirm the result with a test administered by your local public health unit. But even if you can’t get one, you need to protect those around you, said Cynthia Carr, founder and epidemiologist with EPI Research in Winnipeg.

“You still need to go for the gold standard PCR testing,” Carr said in an interview Monday.

“If you can’t get into a testing centre, don’t just continue as normal. Do everything else that you can to stay safe and isolated from others until you can find a testing centre for that confirmation through a PCR test.”

In other words, if you can’t get in to get a test, consider yourself COVID-positive and isolate until a test becomes available or your isolation period has ended.

You should also consider taking another rapid test to help verify the first one, said Dr. Dalia Hasan, the founder of COVID Test Finders, a group that advocates for the availability of rapid tests.

I don’t have a rapid test, but I do have symptoms. What should I do?

Again, it depends on where you live and whether tests are available.

A study from the United Kingdom shows the most common symptoms associated with the Omicron variant are the same as the common cold: runny nose, headache, sneezing and sore throat.

“It is really hard for people to know the difference, which is why it is so important to get tested,” Carr said.

Ideally, you should book a molecular COVID-19 test with your local public health unit. But that’s harder to do in some areas than others.

In Ottawa for example, where test centres are overwhelmed, people have been told to assume the worst until they can get in.

“If you have symptoms, you should assume you have COVID-19 and self-isolate,” Ottawa’s chief public health officer Dr. Vera Etches said in a statement Friday.

Do I need to inform anyone I have COVID-19 if I can’t get a molecular test?

If you get tested by public health, the authorities will already be aware of your positive case. If you can’t get in, you can still give them a call to let them know, said Dr. Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

You should tell your doctor.

“It’s always good for your doctor to know what’s going on so that they can advise you,” Smart said.

“The risk to the individual may vary based on their vaccination status, based on their underlying health conditions, based on people in their family. So those sort of individual decisions are best made with your health provider.”

It’s also important to get reach out to anyone you’ve recently been in close contact with so they can take precautions as well.

The sick person’s employer or school should also be in the loop.

What does it mean to isolate?

It means staying home, and staying away from other people. That includes the people you live with, Carr said.

If you’re with other people within the household, that’s not a safe situation,” she said. Her warning applies even to vaccinated family members.

“You might be living in a household with others who are fully vaccinated, some of whom may have had the booster as well. That is excellent in terms of safety against severe disease, but the virus can still be spread so you should still be doing everything you can to be in a separate room.”

People who are isolating should also use another bathroom, if possible, she said.

If it’s not possible to be in a separate room from the people you live with, at least try to stay two metres apart from other people and wear a mask.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said you should imagine the virus like a cloud of smoke around the infected person. The closer you are to them, the more dense the smoke, the more likely you are to be infected.

When can I go out again?

That will depend on a few factors, like whether you’re fully vaccinated and whether you were tested by public health.

Your local public health unit should be able to offer you the best advice for your situation.

The World Health Organization’s general rule is to isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms or a positive rapid test, and another three days after the symptoms have cleared up.

The same goes if you’re a close contact of a COVID-19 case but have not been tested yourself.

I’m a close contact of a confirmed or suspected COVID case. Now what?

Omicron has upped the ante in terms of how concerned close contacts need to be. Even close contacts of a close contact may want to take extra precautions, Carr said.

“The more infectious a virus is, the more contacts and then contacts of contacts there will be,” she said.

Contacts of a suspected or confirmed case should get tested if at all possible.

Close contacts should isolate just as strictly as those who are suspected as having COVID-19, she said.

How do I know if I have Omicron?

Even if your COVID-19 infection has been confirmed by a molecular test, you’ll probably never know what strain of the virus you have.

The good news is, the advice for treatment and isolation are the same for everyone.

What are my options for treatment?

Asymptomatic cases caught by rapid tests don’t require treatment. Just stay isolated to make sure you don’t make someone else sick.

Mild cases can be treated the way you would treat any common cold or flu.

“Making sure you’re in touch with your health-care providers, so they can be … helping you monitor your symptoms, letting you know what to watch out for, is always a good idea,” Smart said.

People should look out for breathing issues first and foremost, she said. Gastrointestinal symptoms can also lead to dehydration, she warned.

Call 911 if you have significant difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion or difficulty waking up.

For now, most treatments are only available at the hospital.

Canada has ordered oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19 patients that can be taken at home to prevent severe disease, but the drugs have not yet been approved by Health Canada.

—Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Omicron sweeps across US, now 73% of country’s new COVID-19 cases

RELATED: Increased COVID restrictions now in place in many parts of Canada


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Change to shorter isolation period part of managing COVID 19 in B.C.: top doctor – Vancouver Sun



Dr. Bonnie Henry says unvaccinated adults who test positive are at risk of having longer-lasting and more severe illness and must isolate for 10 days but those who are vaccinated should isolate for five days.

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s top doctor says the current wave of COVID-19 is causing less severe illness and that calls for a shift to shorter periods of isolation in order to minimize societal disruptions.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry says unvaccinated adults who test positive are at risk of having longer-lasting and more severe illness and must isolate for 10 days but those who are vaccinated should isolate for five days.

She says children are at much lower risk of severe illness and are able to clear an infection faster, so five days’ isolation is also suitable for them, with mounting evidence showing they need to interact with others as part of their social development.

Henry says testing is not needed for most people who have symptoms and are likely to have a mild illness but those who are immunocompromised and over 70 could end up with more serious illness and likely need a test.

She says vaccination remains the best protection for everyone, especially for vulnerable groups, but anyone with symptoms should stay home until they feel better, the same as with other respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Henry says COVID-19 is far from being an endemic illness so restrictions that are in place are needed to prevent more hospitalizations, though those numbers have been declining.

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Canada’s Omicron wave may have peaked; hospitals still under strain



Canada is seeing early signs that a wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may have peaked, but hospitals are still under intense strain, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said on Friday.

Tam made her remarks days after the provinces of Ontario and Quebec – which together account for around 61% of Canada’s population of 38.5 million – said they were more optimistic about their ability to deal with coronavirus infections.

“There are early indications that infections may have peaked at the national level,” Tam said, noting daily case counts had dropped 28% compared to the previous week.

“However, daily hospital and intensive care unit numbers are still rising steeply, and many hospitals across Canada are under intense strain,” she said in a news briefing.

Over the past week, an average of more than 10,000 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals every day, surpassing peak daily numbers for all previous waves, she said.

Although politicians at all levels have repeatedly urged Canadians to get inoculated against the virus, Tam said 6.5 million people in the country were still not fully vaccinated.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in BengaluruEditing by Paul Simao)

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BC Centre for Disease Control apologizes for isolation guidance flip flops –



The BC Centre of Disease Control is apologizing after making multiple changes to COVID-19 isolation guidelines over the past few days.

On Tuesday, the BC CDC posted guidance reducing the isolation requirement for all COVID-19 test positive cases to five days no matter the vaccination status.

Then, less than 24 hours later, it updated the guidance to require unvaccinated adults to isolate for ten days following a COVID-positive test.

Read more:

COVID-19: B.C. reports 13 new deaths as hospitalizations near 900

But at the same time the guidelines changed for any one 17 years old and younger. That demographic only needs to isolate for five days, no matter vaccine status, following a positive test.

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

In all of these cases, the isolation time will be longer if there are still COVID symptoms.

The BC CDC also waived all isolation requirements for close contacts.

None of this information was included in a press release or public briefing.

“We apologize for the web posting and changes that occurred yesterday,” a statement from the BC CDC said.

“We understand the significant interest in these testing and isolation guidelines, which is why we updated the website immediately with clarifications made yesterday. We recognize this approach led to confusion.”

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

The BC CDC said it acknowledges the frustration people are feeling about the pandemic and the need people have for clear communication on changes impacting their lives.

“We will strive to ensure there is a better change management process for future changes,” the statement reads.

“These changes are a step toward enabling British Columbians to self-manage their illness and will help guide their actions to limit the spread of illness in our communities.”

Read more:

BC CDC flip flops on isolation requirements for unvaccinated COVID-19-positive people

On the issue of the new guidelines, the CDC said public health guidance always strives to strike a balance between preventing infection and limiting the harms caused by preventing people from participation in societal activities like working, going to school and socializing.

Public health officials have stated frequently the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has changed the COVID situation in the province.

Click to play video: 'BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts'

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

BC CDC adjusts isolation requirements for close contacts

The province has struggled with providing access to COVID testing and the contact tracing has entirely broken down amid the arrival of the Omicron variant.

“The guidance and how we manage the situation is changing rapidly and we always intend to provide the public with the most up-to-date information as quickly as possible,” the CDC said in the statement.

Read more:

BC CDC flip flops on isolation requirements for unvaccinated COVID-19-positive people

“We expect further changes to the guidance in the weeks to come and commit to keeping British Columbians informed.”

Here is a summary of the key changes from the CDC:

  • If you have mild symptoms and do not need a COVID-19 test, stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are under 18 or a fully vaccinated adult you must self-isolate at home for five days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever. In this case avoid non-essential visits to high-risk settings for an additional five days.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are 18 years of age or older and not fully vaccinated you must self-isolate at home for 10 days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever.
  • Close contacts do not need to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status, but should self-monitor.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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