British Columbia and Alberta followed suit in Saskatchewan and Ontario with an announcement Friday that fully vaccinated people can now reduce their isolation to five days after contracting COVID-19.
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Previously, those who took two or more doses for more than 14 days had to self-isolate for at least a week in British Columbia and ten days in Alberta.
“We’ve come to a consensus that with the milder disease we’re currently seeing in most people, we can make a change to reduce the period during which people have to be isolated if they are sick,” said British Columbia’s director of public health. Dr. Bonnie Henry. Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping stressed that this new, less restrictive measure remains cautious, as the disease appears to be contagious for a shorter period of time in vaccinated people.
These changes will, among other things, lead to the collapse of the front lines in the province’s health care system, said Alberta’s chief of health, Dr. Dina Henshaw.
However, there is no change on the part of the unvaccinated population who are still required to self-isolate for at least ten days from the onset of symptoms or to have a positive screening test result.
Dr Henry said people should not leave their homes until after five days if their symptoms “have resolved or improved significantly”.
She explained, “What we’re seeing with Omicron is that a shorter incubation period means that people are contagious sooner, 1-2 days before symptoms start, and their disease also tends to be contagious. It is treated more quickly.”
Earlier this week, the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) also shortened the isolation period to five days for Americans who test positive for COVID-19 if they do not develop symptoms. Saskatchewan was the first Canadian province to follow in the Americans’ footsteps, followed by Ontario on Thursday.
Public Health Canada responded Wednesday by announcing that the federal recommendation will remain within 10 days of symptoms appearing.
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