The BC Centre of Disease Control is apologizing after making multiple changes to COVID-19 isolation guidelines over the past few days.
On Tuesday, the BC CDC posted guidance reducing the isolation requirement for all COVID-19 test positive cases to five days no matter the vaccination status.
Then, less than 24 hours later, it updated the guidance to require unvaccinated adults to isolate for ten days following a COVID-positive test.
But at the same time the guidelines changed for any one 17 years old and younger. That demographic only needs to isolate for five days, no matter vaccine status, following a positive test.
In all of these cases, the isolation time will be longer if there are still COVID symptoms.
The BC CDC also waived all isolation requirements for close contacts.
None of this information was included in a press release or public briefing.
“We apologize for the web posting and changes that occurred yesterday,” a statement from the BC CDC said.
“We understand the significant interest in these testing and isolation guidelines, which is why we updated the website immediately with clarifications made yesterday. We recognize this approach led to confusion.”
The BC CDC said it acknowledges the frustration people are feeling about the pandemic and the need people have for clear communication on changes impacting their lives.
“We will strive to ensure there is a better change management process for future changes,” the statement reads.
“These changes are a step toward enabling British Columbians to self-manage their illness and will help guide their actions to limit the spread of illness in our communities.”
On the issue of the new guidelines, the CDC said public health guidance always strives to strike a balance between preventing infection and limiting the harms caused by preventing people from participation in societal activities like working, going to school and socializing.
Public health officials have stated frequently the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has changed the COVID situation in the province.
The province has struggled with providing access to COVID testing and the contact tracing has entirely broken down amid the arrival of the Omicron variant.
“The guidance and how we manage the situation is changing rapidly and we always intend to provide the public with the most up-to-date information as quickly as possible,” the CDC said in the statement.
“We expect further changes to the guidance in the weeks to come and commit to keeping British Columbians informed.”
Here is a summary of the key changes from the CDC:
- If you have mild symptoms and do not need a COVID-19 test, stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are under 18 or a fully vaccinated adult you must self-isolate at home for five days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever. In this case avoid non-essential visits to high-risk settings for an additional five days.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are 18 years of age or older and not fully vaccinated you must self-isolate at home for 10 days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever.
- Close contacts do not need to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status, but should self-monitor.