TORONTO – People in Ontario who test positive for COVID-19 no longer have to isolate for five days but should stay home until their fever clears and their symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours, the province’s top doctor said Wednesday.
Dr. Kieran Moore said people should also wear a mask “in any setting” for 10 full days from the start of their symptoms, even if they feel better.
He said improvements such as better ventilation and environmental cleaning in schools, combined with the level of immunization across Ontario, mean “we now can have a more permissive approach to return.”
In an update ahead of the fall, Moore said the province is moving away from COVID-19-specific guidance in favour of an “all-virus approach,” meaning the guidelines apply to other illnesses such as the flu.
“This approach should decrease the risk of all respiratory viruses in our communities,” he said.
“The caveat is that we also want to maintain high level of protection through… keeping up to date with all of our vaccinations, but in particular keeping up to date for the COVID-19 vaccination.”
Moore also announced that the province will offer COVID-19 booster shots to children aged five to 11 this week, with appointments available starting Thursday.
Appointments will be available through the province’s vaccine portal starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, the province said. Parents can also book appointments for their children through their local public health units, participating pharmacies or health-care providers.
Health Canada said earlier this month it had approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for children aged 5-11, to be administered at least six months after their second dose.
Vaccines for that age group were first approved last November.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as students in Ontario prepare to return to schools this fall for the first time without COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic.
Data published by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows wastewater signals, an early COVID-19 trend indicator, have ticked up since mid-August after declining for three weeks.
Moore said Wednesday the province is still in the midst of a seventh wave, though he said it had already plateaued.
He said the province can expect to see more cases in the fall as people spend more time indoors.