- PCR is not available to school-aged children. COVID-19 testing will take place when schools are closed to in-person learning.
- Ontario’s new testing guidelines deny a large number of people access to free testing regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
Children of school age are not eligible for PCR. COVID-19 testing will be conducted during the time that schools are closed to in-person learning, according to Ontario health officials, on Thursday.
School-aged children were one of the few groups left eligible for PCR testing when the Ford government significantly narrowed the testing guidance one week ago due to overwhelming demand.
Officials said Thursday that because schools are closed to in-person learning until at least January 17, parents should not schedule appointments for their symptomatic children at assessment centers until schools reopen.
According to health bureaucrats, during a technical briefing, any Indigenous child, a child identified in an outbreak investigation, or a child considered to be under-housed or homeless would still be eligible for free PCR COVID-19 testing.
Ontario’s new testing guidelines deny a large number of people access to free testing regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
Officials said Ontario could get as many as 119 million rapid antigen tests in January. Still, the majority would closely monitor healthcare workers and residents, and staff in congregate care facilities.
The new rules do not apply to seniors of any age who live in the community rather than in a congregate-care facility.
When asked what symptomatic seniors should do if they suspect COVID-19, officials said they should monitor their symptoms and, if necessary, contact their doctor or Telehealth Ontario.
They said that if any of the new COVID-19 antivirals, such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill, are approved by Health Canada, they will be ready to update the testing guidance for community-dwelling seniors to get timely, free PCR testing.
Isolation policy for two rapid negative tests is now in effect.
The province claims that those with access to rapid antigen tests can shorten the period of isolation for vaccinated people with symptoms who only need to isolate for five days if their symptoms improve.
“Two negatives 24 hours apart would allow you to return to your work or school setting,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
If two rapid antigen tests taken at least 24 hours apart come back negative, that person can come out of self-isolation 24 hours after your symptoms have improved.
No plans to create a central reporting portal for rapid antigen test results.
Following the recent narrowing of Ontario’s testing guidelines, several community-minded individuals created online portals for people to report positive rapid antigen test results.
When asked if the province would create such a portal, health officials said that evidence from the United Kingdom suggests that few people would report a positive test result and that such an effort would be ineffective in terms of public health.
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