June 12, 2020

Can I return to work while awaiting a COVID-19 test?

There seems to be some confusion about going to work after a COVID-19 test. Last week the Minister of Health strongly urged healthcare workers to be tested before returning to practice. This is not mandatory, but up to your discretion. We have received calls from members expressing their concern that they were told that they should not return to work until they receive their negative result. This is only true if you have symptoms, have been out of the country, have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive or if that person has been in contact with someone who has tested positive. If you don’t meet the above criteria, but has had a test just to confirm, you are under no obligation to isolate while waiting for you results. But remember, your test only tells you if you have COVID-19 at the time of your test. You could become infected at any time after your test and negative result.

Below are quotes from CTV on June 12, 2020

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott

“I went and while I was at the assessment centre having the test, I was advised that because I had not directly been in contact with anyone with COVID that I did not need to self-isolate...That was the medical advice I was given and that is what I did and my test results came back negative of course."

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

“As we outlined our testing criteria at the assessment centres… if you have signs and symptoms and you're suspected of being a COVID case, you will get your test and then you are supposed to stay in self-isolation until you get results,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Thursday.

“Other criteria, you say, ‘Well, I was in contact with a known positive.’ That is another reason to get tested and you still have to self-isolate until you get that result back, including people who say, ‘Well I'm not sure but I was in a highly risky area, I don't know.’’”

He noted that the rules are different for people who are not experiencing symptoms of the virus and have not been in contact with a known case.

“Testing asymptomatic people... say 5,000 workers, none of them have symptoms, none of them are cases, we are not going to say all 5,000 wait for five, six days to get results back. They just continue going to work because it is asymptomatic testing,” he added.

“They have no signs and symptoms, they have no contact with a case, no possible contact with a case, and there is no evidence of an outbreak. So it is a different situation altogether.”

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