APH Q&A – Common Questions about COVID response

Algoma Public Health

We decided to reach out to the Algoma Public Health with some general COVID related questions raised by our readers over the past couple of months to help provide you with some answers. Dr. Celeste Loewe, Public Health Resident Physician, was kind enough to take the time to do just that.

The following are the responses Dr. Loewe provided:

I know contact tracing happens, I’m just hoping you can explain how it happens and what the protocol is to decide if someone is close contact?

Close contact means the person acquired their infection through close contact with a known confirmed case.

For example, living together with a case, or spending more than 15 minutes with a case while less than 2 metres apart without masks or PPE, are considered high-risk close contact exposures (for example, sitting on the same couch, sharing meal around the same kitchen dining table, carpooling, attending an indoor house/garage party with many people unmasked, sharing food/drinks).

When it comes to workplaces, if the protocol is inside 6 ft. for more than 5 minutes … does that mean that masks and other PPE don’t work?

Masks and PPE do provide protection. For example, health care workers must be in close proximity to patients, and the use of PPE such as medical masks and eye protection prevent infection in these settings.

Bacterial Pneumonia is becoming a thing in other parts of the world due to mask use … is there a concern in Algoma about this becoming an issue?

Proper use of masks and PPE does not lead to bacterial pneumonia. We encourage everyone to use credible sources and information and to follow good practices for mask use.

Why is it impossible to get a prescription for Tamiflu without first having a COVID-19 test?

Although some of the symptoms are the same, some are different. It is not possible to distinguish COVID-19 from other viral illnesses such as influenza without testing.

When contract workers are coming into the city to work, their place of employment is done as close contact tracing, what about the places they eat at? sleep? are they included?

See below…

Do we know, or are people who tested positive, required to tell APH if they went to a big box store in the past 48 hours?

APH reviews all the activities of people who test positive for COVID-19, from 48 hours before their symptom onset until they were ineffective self-isolation.

All close contact exposures are identified, and close contacts are notified directly by APH.

If there is a close contact exposure risk to the general public, or if APH is unable to identify and directly notify close contacts, a public notification would be issued with the time and location of exposure.

When someone has had a test, are they required to isolate until it comes back or is it just a recommendation?

This can depend on the reason for testing.

People such as long term care home workers, who are asymptomatic and being tested routinely as part of provincial requirements, are not required to isolate before test results come back.

In general, most people who test because of symptoms or because of a high-risk exposure should self-isolate.

And if a person has had a high-risk close contact exposure to a confirmed case, they must self-isolate for 14 days regardless of a negative test result.