The move to drop mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID is concerning, says the health policy expert

An expert condemns a move by British Columbia public health officials to drop mandatory self-isolation rules for those who test positive for COVID-19.

The rule change was not announced in a public statement nor was it highlighted prominently during the day Wednesday Press Conference By County Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Secretary Adrian Dix.

Instead, the guidance on the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC) website has changed on the page, Self-isolation and self-monitoring Thursday.

“Beginning November 17, 2022, people with COVID-19 are no longer required to self-isolate,” the page reads. “However, it is still important for people with symptoms to stay home as much as possible to limit any possible spread of the disease until symptoms improve.”

Andrew Longhurst, a health policy researcher at Simon Fraser University, said it was concerning that the impactful rule change had not been communicated more broadly.

“I think what it suggests is…they were hoping to avoid any public discussion and debate about what this means,” he told CBC News in an interview.

“Especially at a time when childcare is in the province Collapses As in other provinces.

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Even with the removal of mandatory self-isolation rules, the province continues to advise those feeling ill to stay home until their symptoms improve. (Michel Asperot/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Until Thursday, fully vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 were required Five days self-isolationwhile unvaccinated adults were expected to be quarantined for 10 days.

Those guidelines initially set a 10-day isolation period for all who test positive, even without symptoms, until changes are made for fully vaccinated people at the start of 2022.

Without mandatory isolation rules, Longhurst said, there would be more spread of COVID-19 in the county — especially since Research has shown People are infectious even six days after their first positive test.

Accidental mention of rule change at press conference

After the BCCDC website was updated Thursday, the only mention of the rule change was accidental.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Henry brought up the rule in passing while discussing how to block the measures RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 The three viruses currently affecting children across British Columbia have remained the same.

“One of the things we’ve been using for a long time is saying if you have COVID, you need to stay home for five days,” she said. “It is no longer relevant to where we are now.

“If you have symptoms of any respiratory illness…the guidance is to stay home and limit close contact with others.”

watch | Dr. Bonnie Henry on why she’s not yet ready to enforce a mask mandate:

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why a mask mandate is not needed in British Columbia

There are tools other than a mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illness, says Dr. Bonnie Henry, the county health officer.

A statement from the county after the press conference reiterates Henry’s advice, but does not mention dropping the mandatory quarantine rules.

“Basic public health guidance has not changed. If you have symptoms or test positive, as much as possible should be isolated until symptoms are gone,” a Department of Health spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement did not say that the self-isolation rules had actually changed or the reasons for the change.

Impact on unstable employees

Longhurst says the new rules will give employers legal support to require sick employees to report to work even if they test positive for COVID-19.

“The more dangerous it is to be a worker in this county, the more likely you are to encounter an employer who will say, ‘I need you in the workplace, and I don’t care if you have COVID,’” he said, adding that those who work in health care or education will be most affected. .

Longhurst says he is concerned not only about the acute impact of more people infected outside, but also of workers trying to work through COVID-19 — something he says increases the risk of infection. Long COVIDAccording to the search.

“We are now in November. I think very few workers, perhaps, have any of them Paid sick leave from your employer Leave at this time, “he said,” we are going to the feasts. It’s supposed to be a very busy retail season, and shopping season.

“I suspect [dropping isolation rules] It is…serving those economic interests rather than public health.”

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