Ontario’s science table members would have advised against scrapping COVID isolation

The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 2, 2022 1:57PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 2, 2022 1:57PM EDT

Members of Ontario’s outgoing science table say they would have advised against the province’s decision to scrap COVID-19 isolation requirements if they were consulted on the move.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore said this week that those who test positive for COVID-19 no longer need to isolate for five days.

Under new guidelines, people should stay home until their fever clears and their symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours but they should wear a mask “in any setting” for 10 full days.

Dr. Fahad Razak, the scientific director for the table that’s set to be dissolved next week, says he disagrees with the province’s scrapping of isolation requirements.

Razak, a Univeristy of Toronto professor and an internist at St. Michael’s Hospital, says he favours more stringent rules – including masking indoors – as a way to limit spread of COVID-19, which will help ease the burden on the health-care system.

Dr. Gerald Evans, a science table member who also teaches at Queen’s University, says it’s too early to lift the isolation rule, particularly with school resuming and a busy fall and winter respiratory illness season expected.

“This is not a way to handle the pandemic at this point,” Evans said. “I think it’s being led by some very, very simplistic thinking.”

Razak said the science table did not officially assess the government’s decision to scrap the isolation requirement and noted that the advisory group hasn’t always been consulted on pandemic measures.

He said Ontario’s health system, which is already under pressure, could be strained even further.

“I’m seeing significant risk in the health-care system and a wave that has not receded to the extent that we would like,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2022.