Ontario Changes List of COVID-19 Symptoms That Would Require Students to Stay Home

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TORONTO – Children who only have a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer need to test negative for COVID-19 to return to school or daycare, but they will still have to stay away home for at least 24 hours. The Ontario government previously said children with any of the 17 symptoms listed in its screening questionnaire should self-isolate at home for 14 days or test negative for COVID-19 before returning at school or daycare.

The province, however, has now relaxed those guidelines amid reports of sustained long queues at many assessment centers in the GTA.

A negative COVID test or alternative diagnosis from a doctor will still be required if a child has developed any of the four symptoms most commonly associated with illness caused by the novel coronavirus – fever, cough, loss of taste or smell. and shortness of breath. .

But if they only have one symptom less associated with COVID-19, such as a runny nose or a headache, they can return after 24 hours as long as their condition improves.

The province has also removed abdominal pain and pink eyes completely from its list of symptoms.

“We are changing the policy and clarifying that schools and daycares should not require a negative COVID test (if children have only one symptom); in fact, they shouldn’t even require a doctor’s note, ”said Ontario’s assistant medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, in a briefing Thursday afternoon. “The parent knows the child best, so if the parent has seen the provider and the child is feeling better, they should be able to go back to school.

Decision to revise screening guidelines for schools and daycares comes after the B.C. government removed ten symptoms from its list for school-aged children last month, including runny nose, aches of head and fatigue.

Yaffe said Ontario public health officials had considered doing the same and removing a runny nose from their symptom list, but decided to keep it after learning that 17% of children diagnosed with the COVID-19 in Ontario only had a runny nose at first.

“We felt we had to include the runny nose; however, we know that a runny nose is a very common symptom and that in the vast, vast majority of cases, it is not COVID-19, ”she said. “There are all kinds of other causes. There are other viruses circulating in the community where the child may have just been outside and have a runny nose. It’s still there (on the list), but what we really want to look at is if this is an important symptom and if they have other symptoms as well. If they just have a runny nose and they go home and it’s better and they don’t have any other symptoms, they can go back to school the next day.

It should be noted that the revised screening guidelines will still require any child with more than one of the listed symptoms to test negative for COVID-19 or receive another diagnosis from a doctor before returning to school or to the hospital. nursery.

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