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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Ottawa doctor suggests destabilizing current COVID-19 isolation guidelines

An Ottawa epidemiologist is pushing for policy changes for isolation and testing requirements as public health struggles to keep up with demand for COVID-19 testing.

The growing Omicron variant is also pushing businesses to the brink of concerns about spread and access to testing.

Nick Milito, owner of Bella’s Boys Italian Kitchen, said, “Out of serious concerns not only for our customers, but also our employees, our family, we have made the decision to close that front door.”

The restaurant has decided to close its doors to indoor dining, offering only curbside pickup for now.

Milito says rising COVID-19 cases are raising concerns about community spread and a lack of access to testing for staff and family.

“You know two, three, four get hits with this version and it’s going to have a serious impact,” he said.

On Monday, Chateau Lafayette also announced on social media that it was closing indefinitely due to a staff shortage.

“Finally it happened: We’ve run out of staff,” said a post on the popular pub’s Instagram account. “We’re not sure when we’ll reopen, but we’ll keep you posted. Stay healthy and safe!”

Ottawa epidemiologist, Dr. Raywat Devanandan, says current provincial guidelines requiring 10 days of isolation are not sustainable.

“We will reach a point where exposures are happening so commonly that we cannot keep people at home if they are asymptomatic,” Devanandan said.

As Canada hits two million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and Omicron is furious, Devanandan says it is time to redefine policies around testing and isolation.

He said, “I’m not saying open the doors. I’m not saying be careful with the wind. I’m not saying keep everything open.” “What I’m saying is to reevaluate the isolation protocol to keep society running. So many people have to isolate, we have to rethink it. It’s probably not logical.”

He suggests greater use of rapid testing or shorter isolation periods for asymptomatic high-risk contacts.

His remarks came as US health officials reduced the isolation and quarantine timeline from 10 days to five. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that Americans who have no COVID-19 symptoms after five days of isolation should be able to leave their homes, as long as they wear a mask around others. Huh.

The CDC said the guidance comes amid growing evidence that people with the virus are most contagious two days before and three days after they develop symptoms.

Other doctors, such as infectious disease physician Dr Suman Chakraborty, also called for shortening of isolation guidelines in Canada on Monday.

“It should be done here for essential workplaces,” Chakraborty said on twitter, “The current quarantine period is too long and not supported by evidence (not to mention extremely impractical).”

In Ottawa, public health has warned that access to PCR testing is limited.

Three pop-up testing sites will hand out rapid tests this week:


Thursday

  • Walter Baker Recreation Center at 100 Malvern Drive – 7 a.m.
  • Saint Laurent Shopping Center on Saint Laurent Boulevard – 8 a.m. (new time)


Friday

  • Walter Baker Recreation Center at 100 Malvern Drive – 7 a.m.

“Vaccination has changed the conversation to a great extent,” Devanandan said. “Because of vaccination rates, the attack on the healthcare system is not as bad as it would have been.”

In Ottawa, nearly 100,000 doses of the vaccine were given locally last week. This brings the total number of people who have at least one dose to 85% and counting. More than 243,000 residents have boosters.

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