The public health advice about COVID-19 exposures, isolation, testing and other pandemic scenarios can be confusing, especially in light of the way the Omicron variant is blazing through the country. If you have questions, chances are someone in Ottawa is worried about the same thing too. So, we are solicited questions from you via Instagram.© Provided by Ottawa Citizen Answering your questions about Omicron in Ottawa
If you have a question that isn’t listed here, send us your COVID-19 questions in the comment section below and our reporters will work to find the answers as soon as we can. We will update this story in an ongoing basis.https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533
Questions and Answers
Q: What does the city of Ottawa do about those who don’t wear masks indoors (eg condos)?
A: Province-wide masking regulations are in effect with masks required in places including the common areas of apartment and condo buildings. The City of Ottawa said that it’s “taking an education-first approach” and calling bylaw “should be a last resort.” However, when warnings don’t work, tickets can be issued. But in an FAQ for condo and apartment building operators, the city said that “if a residents says they are exempt from the by-law, they do not need to show proof.
“If a resident refuses to wear a mask and is not exempt from the by-law, a building operator, resident or guest may report the issue to the City (of Ottawa) for follow-up.”
Q: I had a few clinical signs and got a negative PCR test. Can I go back to work before the end of the 10-day isolation period?
A: Lucky you! You were able to get a PCR test. Guidance published on the Ottawa Public Health website states that people who have symptoms but no known close contact with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 can end self-isolation IF you test negative on a PCR test, AFTER you have no fever and symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medications. Those with diarrhea or vomiting must see improvement in those symptoms for 48 hours before returning to a school or child-care setting.
Q: We got COVID and it’s been 15 days now. How safe is it for us to travel abroad now?
A: The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising all travellers – regardless of vax status – to avoid non-essential travel internationally. The feds also say not to travel if you’re isolating, or have symptoms, even if mild. If you’re well and you have to travel, the advice is to check your destination’s COVID-19 testing, vaccination and other entry requirements.
It should be noted though: Ottawa Public Health advises that continuing to test positive after recovery from COVID-19 infection is common, and says some people may still test positive for weeks or months after their first test, as the test continues to detect non-contagious viral remnants.
To address people who’ve had COVID and recovered and are now symptom-free, Canada allows proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test when crossing back over the border, rather than a negative one, provided it was taken between 14 and 180 days prior.
Q: Why does Canada still require PCR tests for short trips to U.S.?
A: At the end of November, the federal government lifted the requirement to get a COVID-19 molecular test before returning to Canada for fully vaccinated travellers leaving for less than 72 hours.
Just a few weeks later, as concerns about the Omicron variant grew, they brought back that requirement “as another layer of precaution,” according to a Dec. 17 government press release.
The feds pledged that “all border measures will continue to be evaluated and are subject to adjustments based on the latest science, evidence, and data.”
Q: If someone tests positive on a rapid test, should they still get the PCR test?
A: Yes, if they can (and self-isolate in the interim). If they can’t, OPH says they have to assume they have COVID, and self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test result or the date of symptom onset, if symptomatic.
Q: How long do I need to isolate after my symptoms start?
A: If you’ve been unable to access PCR testing, at least 10 days (and until symptoms resolve). If you have been able to access PCR testing and you test positive, it’s 10 days from when symptoms started, as long as you have no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms are getting better for at least 24 hours, or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms.
If you test positive and required ICU care or are severely immunocompromised (for example, are receiving chemotherapy for cancer or taking prednisone), it’s 20 days from when your symptoms started, with the same caveats for ending the isolation period.
Q: What is happening with schools? Are they resuming?
A: This is a tricky question to answer. Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday the province will decide about schools in the next couple of days. Our reporter Jacquie Miller dug into this issue on Tuesday, and spoke with Shoshanah Deaton, an Ottawa mom of two who is also a family doctor who works at a COVID-19 assessment centre in Rockland. Here’s an excerpt from that story:
Deaton says her kids need school — a position echoed by pediatricians, mental health experts, educators and working parents who will have to scramble if students are once again shifted to online classes at home. But Deaton is not optimistic.
“I don’t think schools can safely open in January,” she says.
“If they open, officials need to be honest that widespread infections will occur. There can’t be any mincing of words or hygiene theatre anymore. Teachers will be given N95 (masks), though I highly doubt students will be given appropriate masks, but what will happen when all these people eat and drink?”
You can read the rest Jacquie Miller’s story about Ottawa schools here:
Q: I tested positive on a rapid test. I am too sick to get tested. I am isolating. Do I need to report this to someone?
A: No, the increase of COVID-19 cases has exceeded the capacity of testing and OPH case management operations. At this point, according to Ottawa Public Health “It is not necessary to report positive Rapid Antigen test results to OPH.” You are isolating, and that’s exactly what you should be doing! If you test positive on a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), assume it’s COVID-19, and follow the 10 day isolation guidelines. For more info, including how to best take care of yourself at home, here’s a PDF from Ottawa Public Health, outlining what to do if you test positive , last updated Dec. 23, 2021.
Questions we are investigating today
Q: What masks are the best to worst? Fabric to KN95? A: Our reporter Megan Gillis is looking into this question and will find an answer as soon as possible.
Q: Will rapid antigen tests still show positive results after 10 days? A: Our reporter Taylor Blewett is looking into this question and will find an answer as soon as possible.
Q: How long should I wait to get a booster after having a breakthrough infection? A: Our reporter Taylor Blewett is looking into this question and will find an answer as soon as possible.
Q: Where can I get a PCR test? A: Our reporter Taylor Blewett is looking into this question and will find an answer as soon as possible.
Q: What is the difference between a rapid test and a PCR test in terms of the results they provide? A: Our reporter Taylor Blewett is looking into this question and will find an answer as soon as possible.
Q: If I was exposed yesterday and am still scheduled for a booster in four days, should I still get the booster? A: TBD
Q: With Omicron, is it safe to meet up with another family, outdoors? Each family bubbled with their respective families for Christmas, saw the grandparents, aunts and uncles while respecting the 10 person limit.
A: Our reporter Bruce Deachman is looking into this question.
Q: After 10 days of isolation do we just leave our house? What about the rest of the fam? A: Our reporter Bruce Deachman is looking into this question.
Q: Ideal timeframes for testing? When should you take a rapid test vs a PCR test? A: Our reporter Bruce Deachman is looking into this question.
Q: Is the new booster going to protect us against this variant?
A: Our reporter Bruce Deachman is looking into this question.
Questions we hope to investigate soon
On close contacts and isolating:
Q: I have no symptoms but, but a close contact (non household) does. What’s the protocol?
Q: If one member is sick with cold-like symptoms, why is everyone in the household in isolation? A: TBD
Q: I have no symptoms but I have three family members who have had symptoms for 10 days now. How long should someone isolate after symptoms start? A: TBD
Q: How long do you have to isolate if you have a positive result and live with someone else? A: TBD
Q: I tested positive on a rapid test. I am too sick to get tested. I am isolating. Do I need to report this to someone? A: TBD
Q: If my coworker was exposed to a positive patient, and we work in the same cubicle, should we isolate? A: TBD
With files from Taylor Blewett, Jacquie Miller, and Megan Gillis.