Ontarians with COVID-19 no longer require tests to be considered virus-free

Click to play video 'Ontario government goes into red to fight coronavirus outbreak' Ontario government goes into red to fight coronavirus outbreak
WATCH ABOVE: The province announced a $17-billion aid package to help deal with the growing COVID-19 outbreak. Travis Dhanraj reports. – Mar 25, 2020

Health officials in Ontario are allowing most people who test positive for COVID-19 to end their 14-day self isolation, without test results confirming they’re negative.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Queen’s Park, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, confirmed, “if the case is not hospitalized, they’re not a health care worker, they recover, they feel fine and it’s been 14 days since they became ill, we’re saying they can be considered resolved.”

Yaffe said public health units were informed of the change this week.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Students at York University residence told to go into self-isolation

Previously, in order for a case to be considered “resolved” and listed as such in public health numbers, the individual had to receive two negative tests over 24 hours.

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It is likely that this policy change could dramatically increase the number of “resolved” cases in Ontario, which, as of Wednesday evening, stood at eight.

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Meanwhile, the province is dealing with a limited supply of tests due to a global demand for them, with tests currently being rationed to those who need them most.

Click to play video 'Ontario unveils $17B aid package in response to COVID-19' Ontario unveils $17B aid package in response to COVID-19
Ontario unveils $17B aid package in response to COVID-19 – Mar 25, 2020

As the scramble to procure more tests continues, Global News has reported on individuals experiencing symptoms with a travel history attending assessment centres and being turned away because of the lack of swab kits.

Yaffe says that short supply is part of the reason most that recover from the virus won’t be getting re-tested for now.

“As you know, there there’s a lot of lab tests that are being tested, being required and [have] to be prioritized,” Yaffe said. “And so, those tend to not be prioritized.”
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Viruses often persist at low levels even after recovery.

READ MORE: Ontario confirms 100 new coronavirus cases and 5 more deaths, total jumps to 667 active cases

An article published in February in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed four medical professionals from Wuhan and found trace-levels of the virus weeks after the individuals were symptom free.

“These findings suggest that at least a proportion of recovered patients still may be virus carriers,” the researchers wrote.

While their viral loads were considered low, the researchers pointed out very intimate contact could still pose a risk.