Dec 30, 2021

By Christine Ross

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The Ford government has announced changes to testing and isolation policies for COVID-19.

Starting tomorrow, publicly-funded PCR testing will be available only for high-risk individuals who are symptomatic or are at risk of severe illness from COVID.

And those with a positive rapid test will no longer be required or encouraged to get a PCR test.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore has also announced revised isolation rules.

“Individuals who are vaccinated as well as children under 12, will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms, this also applies to their immediate household contacts,” said Dr. Moore. “The isolation can end after five days if symptoms are resolved or improving for at least 24 hours.”

But those unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must isolate for 10 days, which also applies to those who work or live in high risk health care.

Effective immediately, residents of long-term care and retirement homes, elder care lodges and older adults living in other congregate settings are eligible to get a fourth vaccine dose if it’s been at least three months since the third one.

Also beginning tomorrow, seating capacity at concert venues, arenas and theatres will be limited to 1,000 or half capacity whichever is less.

Public Health Ontario reporting the risk of hospitalization or death is 54% lower for Omicron compared to the Delta variant.

Meantime on the education front, students will return to school next Wednesday rather than Monday. The extra two days will allow school boards to prepare as the province sends out 3,000 more HEPA filters and distributes N-95 masks to staff.

All this as Ontario sets yet another record for new infections 13,807.

965 are hospitalized with COVID including 200 in ICUs.

Here’s the list of who is eligible for testing.

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