This Version Posted: June 3, 2022
On This Page:
- Current COVID-19 Testing Rules
- Isolate if You Have COVID-19 Symptoms
- Household Members of an Individual with COVID-19 Symptoms
- What to Do if You Are a Close Contact But Do Not Live in the Same Household
- How to Isolate
- Getting Reinfected with COVID-19
- Additional Resources
Current COVID-19 Testing Rules
PCR testing is now limited to only certain high-risk individuals and settings. Members of the general public with mild symptoms are asked not to seek testing. A full list of eligible individuals can be found here.
In general, PCR testing is currently limited to only at-risk individuals who live or work in the highest-risk settings and/or who may be at the highest risk of severe illness if they get infected with COVID-19. Household members of staff who work in highest-risk settings and patient-facing health care workers are also eligible for PCR testing.
Rapid Antigen Tests
Find out where to get free Rapid Antigen Tests in your area. In general, if you use a Rapid Antigen Test and it gives you a positive test result, it is very likely you have COVID‑19 and you should isolate and follow the appropriate guidelines. Individuals with a positive result from a Rapid Antigen Test are no longer required or encouraged to get a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test.
For more information, please refer to these resources:
- COVID-19 Rapid Test: How to Collect a Sample – Ontario Health Fact Sheet
- How to Use a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test at Home – Ontario Health Video
Isolate if You Have COVID-19 Symptoms:
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, presume you have the virus and stay home. If you are ill or have received a confirmation through testing, you MUST isolate at home to protect others and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Do not attend work, school, child care or other public places.
If You have Symptoms of COVID-19:
- Individuals who are fully vaccinated, as well as children under 12 who have symptoms of COVID-19 must isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms/test date (whichever came sooner). These individuals can end isolation and leave the home after five days if they have no fever and their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea). You do not need a negative follow-up COVID-19 test to return to work or school. For 10 days after last exposure/symptom onset, do not visit or work in high-risk settings, do not visit individuals at higher risk of illness (like seniors or immunocompromised), avoid activities where you would need to take off your mask (like dining out), and continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings.
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and age 12+, or who are immunocompromised, are required to isolate for 10 days after onset of symptoms/test date (whichever came sooner). You do not need to have a negative follow-up COVID-19 test to return to work or school, but you must have no fever and your symptoms must be improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea) before you can leave the home after 10 days. For five days (or 10 days if you are immunocompromised) after last exposure/symptom onset, do not visit or work in high-risk settings, do not visit individuals at higher risk of illness (like seniors or those with medical conditions), avoid activities where you would need to take off your mask (like dining out), and continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings.
- If you are someone who works or lives in a high risk-health care setting (i.e., hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, congregate living settings) you must notify your employer. Individuals who work or live in these settings should not attend work for 10 days from their symptom onset, or from their date of diagnosis. To ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings may have the opportunity to return to work early on day seven of their isolation, with a negative PCR test, or two negative rapid antigen tests on day six and seven. Additional COVID-19 control measures may also be in place while at work. Speak with your employer or occupational health and safety department for more information.
Household Members of the Individual with COVID-19 Symptoms
Household members do not need to self isolate if they fall into any of the criteria:
- Anyone who has previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days
- Individuals who are age 18+ and have received their COVID-19 booster dose.
- Those who are under age 18 with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
In these above situations, for 10 days after exposure, household members must self-monitor for symptoms; wear a well-fitted mask and avoid activities where removing a mask would be necessary; not visit anyone who is at higher risk of illness (like seniors); and not visit or attend work in highest-risk settings (like hospitals and long-term care homes) unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Household members who do not meet the above criteria must continue to self-isolate while the individual with COVID-19 symptoms is isolating (or for 10 days if you are immunocompromised).
Informing Others of Your Exposure
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, you should also inform anyone you were in close contact with in the two days prior to you developing symptoms and provide them with the link to Ontario.ca/exposed.
A close contact is someone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result (whichever came first).
Individuals who are eligible for a lab-based PCR test are encouraged to get tested.
- How Cases and High-Risk Contacts Will Be Notified – video – HKPR District Health Unit
- What to Do if You Are a Close Contact But Do Not Live in the Same Household – HKPR District Health Unit
- How to Determine if You are a Close Contact – Ottawa Public Health
- What to Do if You’ve Been Exposed to COVID-19 – Government of Ontario
- Provincial Testing and Isolation Information Line – Government of Ontario
- Call this toll-free line at 1-888-777-0730 to ask questions and get information on COVID-19 testing, self-isolating rules, and what to do if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Assistance is available Mondays to Sundays from 8 am to 6 pm.
How to Isolate
Effective January 6, 2022, HKPR has rescinded the Section 22 order that requires individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate. This has been done due to changes in testing guidelines. The Health Unit cannot enforce isolation on people who have tested positive on rapid antigen tests (RAT).
Important!! This change relates only to enforcement by HKPR on self-isolation. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 on a RAT or PCR test and their close contacts must still self-isolate according to the guidelines outlined in COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact And Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge
- Case and Contact Management and PCR Testing Guidance Q & A
- How to Self-Isolate Fact Sheet – Public Health Ontario
Getting Re-infected with COVID-19
It may be possible for someone to get COVID-19 after they have recovered from it. If you are sick again with COVID-19 symptoms, it is best to isolate as per the details above. If you still have questions, please contact us using the Click & Connect system.
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