BC quietly removes all requirement to self-isolate when COVID-positive – Capital Daily

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The change marks the end of mandatory COVID-19 public health measures in the province, but was not prominently featured in any government communication
The change marks the end of mandatory COVID-19 public health measures in the province, but was not prominently featured in any government communication
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The change marks the end of mandatory COVID-19 public health measures in the province, but was not prominently featured in any government communication
For the first time since the pandemic began in March of 2020, if you have COVID-19, you’re no longer required to self-isolate in BC.
That’s the most recent guidance from the BCCDC, posted to their website on Nov. 17. 
Despite the almost singular focus on COVID-19 measures and prevention in the province over the past two years, the change was not clearly announced by the province.
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A spokesperson for the BCCDC told Capital Daily the change was announced in a Wednesday press conference by Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix.
At one point in the hourlong press conference, Dr. Henry said, “The actions we take to prevent the transmission and to look after ourselves are the same.” She then added, “One of the things that we've had in place for a long time is saying, if you have COVID, you need to stay home for five days. That's no longer relevant in the setting that we are in now. Instead, if you have symptoms of any respiratory illness, we suggest—well, we recommend—the guidance, is to stay home and to limit close contact with others.” 
That appears to be the only mention in the announcement of any change in the requirement to self-isolate. 
A press release sent to media the same day as the press conference notes that people who are experiencing respiratory symptoms “should stay home and limit close contact with others,” but there is no mention of a change to self-isolation requirements.
No media has yet reported the change, indicating that it was not widely understood to be a change at all; every other time there has been a significant change to isolation requirements it has been reported across the province.
The BCCDC spokesperson directed us to the health ministry for clarification of the decision; a ministry spokesperson was not immediately able to respond to a request for comment on Friday regarding the justification for the change and its low profile. This story will be updated if the ministry responds.
A page on the BCCDC website called “If You Have COVID-19” has been one resource for BC residents to determine their best course of action, and has reflected the changing guidance as conditions and public health orders have changed. 
The page was first created on December 24, 2021, and according to the archive collected in the Wayback Machine, by January, the instructions were strict but clear: “If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to: Self-isolate and manage your symptoms; Let your close contacts know; Complete an online form to report your test result.” 
In that case, the guidance was accompanied by a dedicated press conference to alert the public to the change. The language, similarly, was clear: “We have come to a consensus that, with the milder illness that we're seeing most people right now, we can make a change to reduce the period of time that people need to be isolated if they're sick,” Henry said. 
By April, the page included the province’s differing instructions for people who are and are not vaccinated—but the underlying guidelines remained the same: people who tested positive are required, by order of the public health officer, to self-isolate until their symptoms had improved, at the earliest.
As of Thursday, all mention of different responses for people who are and are not vaccinated has been removed from that page. 
Similarly, the imperative—“needs to stay home”—has been removed. 
Now the page says, “Starting November 17, 2022, people who have COVID-19 are no longer required to self-isolate. However, it is still important for people with symptoms to stay home as much as possible to reduce any potential spread of illness until your symptoms have improved, and you are able to participate in your usual activities.” 
This latest quiet shift in guidance heralds the culmination of the removal of every mandatory layer of protection against the pandemic virus in BC. At the press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Henry also announced she would not reinstate a mask mandate despite a spike in pediatric hospital admissions and school absences due to illness. 
Sarah Otto, a member of the independent BC COVID-19 Modelling Group, tweeted about the news of the change with a single word: "Yikes." 
—With files from Brishti Basu

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