On Wednesday Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, held a press conference where he announced the removal of the mandatory masking requirement for most settings on March 21, with the eventual lifting in most settings by April 27. As part of the Living with and Managing COVID-19 (FR) strategy, a number of public health measures are being lifted including masking, isolation and testing requirements.
Like many of you, we share a lot of the same concerns that our partners like the OHA, Children’s Health Coalition and RNAO have articulated that the removal of masks may be too soon, especially as we are still in a pandemic and high risk settings like schools have large groups of children not yet vaccinated. Now more than ever, getting as many children vaccinated and third shots to those over 18+ is critical. If you would like to administer vaccines in your clinic please connect with your PHU operational lead for information if you haven’t yet done so.
Living with and Managing COVID-19
Highlights from the Living with and Managing COVID-19 (FR) strategy:
CMOH Directives & Letters of Instructions:
- A process is currently underway to gradually revoke all CMOH Directives and instructions by the end of April, which will be replaced with operational guidance or recommendations from the CMOH and relevant Ministry.
- The first Directive to be revoked (FR) is Directive #6 (first issued on August 17, 2021), which required regarding the COVID-19 vaccination or and testing policies for public hospitals, home care and community services providers organizations, Home and Community Care Support Services organizations and ambulance services with respect to paramedics. Directive #6 will be revoked effective March 14, 2022, after which time organizations may retain their own policies.
- On March 21, 2022, masking requirements will end in most places including schools but will remain in public transit, LTC, retirement homes, other healthcare settings and congregate settings like shelters and jails. Also, businesses will no longer have to conduct passive screening to require patients to self-identify recent exposure to a COVID-19 case. Other measures in schools are to also be lifted including removing cohorts and daily on-site screening.
- On April 27, 2022 all remaining measures, directives and orders end including removing masking requirements in all remaining settings and revoking Directives 1, 2.1, 3, 4 and 5. Operational guidance post-April 27 will include a requirement for masking in all healthcare settings, though we are still seeking clarity on that.
Case and Contact Management and Isolation:
- Non-household close contacts no longer need to isolate but for 10 days after exposure should self-monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, avoid activities that require removal of mask, not visit anyone who is at higher risk for illness (i.e., seniors) and not visit or attend work in highest risk settings (unless they have previously tested positive in past 90 days).
- Household close contacts no longer need to self-isolate but should follow the above precautions for 10 days if: they have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in past 90 days or are household members over age 18+ and that have been vaccinated and received their including booster dose or are household members under 18 years old and are fully vaccinated (two doses). If household members do not meet the above criteria they must self-isolate per current requirements.
You can find additional information about COVID-19 data reporting in the Living With and Managing COVID-19 briefing deck.
With the recent changes to Directives 1, 4 and 5, the use of N95 respirators has increased across the province’s health system. Please see this memo (FR) from Alison Blair, Associate Deputy Minister, Pandemic Response and Recovery and Melanie Frasier, Associate Deputy Minister, Health Services, on more information on the N95 Respirators that have been secured by the Ontario government over the next five years. Also included in the memo are instructions for health services providers on how to access N95 1870+ respirators and Fit Testing Supports. A reminder that health service provider organizations can request N95 1870+ respirators through Ontario Health’s Critical PPE Intake Form.
Additional Ministry Updated Information
- COVID-19 Signage Questions for Businesses and Organizations
- COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge
- COVID-19 Vaccine Children/ Youth (Age 5-17) Consent Form (now available in 26 languages)
- COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool (PDF and interactive version available)
- One-page information document on how and when to use a rapid antigen test. This information is available in English, French and 22 additional languages.
In addition, the guidance for PCR testing has been updated and the eligibility has been expanded. The updated eligibility now includes: an outpatient who requires a diagnostic test for clinical management. This category gives primary care providers the flexibility to get PCR tests for their patients based on their clinical judgment.
Events and Webinars
Vaccine Hesitancy for People who are Pregnant, Lactating or Planning to Become Pregnant
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with the Canadian Vaccination Evidence Resource and Exchange Centre (CANVax) to produce a webinar to inform health care providers on vaccine hesitancy and strategies to build vaccine confidence in people who are pregnant, lactating or planning to become pregnant.
At the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:
- Discuss the challenges to vaccine confidence for individuals and families who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or lactating
- Identify strategies for building vaccine confidence among pregnant families, new parents, and those who intend to become pregnant
Thursday, March 17, 2022
3:30pm – 4:30pm EST
Register: Click here
Dr. Ève Dubé, PhD, Medical anthropologist, Quebec National Institute of Public Health, Laval University
Dr. Isabelle Boucoiran, M.D., M. Sc., Obstetrician-gynecologist, maternofetal medicine and reproductive infectious diseases specialist, clinical associate professor, Université de Montréal
Stephanie Elliott, MPH, CPH, Public Health Agency of Canada
Improving your indoor air quality is essential to curbing the spread of COVID and protecting the health of your staff, clients, and community.
Join the Alliance for Healthier Communities at noon on Tuesday, April 5 for a special Lunch ‘n’ Learn Webinar. Dr. Jeffrey Siegel and Dr. Amy (Tianyuan) Li will share practical advice about simple-low-cost measures you can take now to monitor and improve air quality in your facilities. These include portable filtration, bathroom fans that exhaust outdoor, strategically use of UV disinfection, and ways to clear air in rooms between uses.
Register now, and be sure to mention any questions you’d like to see addressed. Want to get started right away? Check out these five great things non-profits can do with their year-end surpluses (or any time) to improve air quality and reduce airborne transmission of COVID-19 and other pathogens. This event is co-sponsored by our partners at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions and the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council.
We know you have a lot of questions around how to manage patient care as we look at living with and managing COVID in this next phase of the pandemic, including IPAC and masking for in-person care. We’re working with Public Health Ontario and our primary care partners to get some guidance and hope to have some information shortly. In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and thank you for all that you do. As always, please contact us if you have any questions.
Yours in Good Health,
The AFHTO Team