Ontario Enhancing COVID-19 Case and Contact Management
As the province safely and gradually reopens, the Ontario government is enhancing case and contact management to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves. These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, and, in partnership with the federal government, a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The government's enhanced strategy focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management by:
Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;
Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;
Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and
Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
"You can't manage what you can't measure. That's why our government has been relentless in building our testing and contact tracing capacity to track, trace, and contain the invisible enemy we face," said Premier Ford. "As we take our contact tracing strategy to the next level today, I want to thank the federal government for providing more boots on the ground and supporting a privacy-first app that will protect both Ontarians and Canadians alike."
"Along with the early detection of new cases through the ongoing implementation of our enhanced testing strategy, more effective and efficient case and contact management will ensure that we are able to stop the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually reopen the province," said Minister Elliott. "To support these efforts, we are dramatically expanding staffing levels and getting on with the long-overdue work of replacing outdated systems that no longer meet the needs of public health units."
Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached in a timely and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health units will:
Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;
Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;
Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and
Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.
To augment the current provincial capacity of approximately 2,000 case managers and contact tracers, Ontario is providing additional contact tracing staff. New and expanded capacity will be provided through Statistics Canada with access to up to 1,700 additional staff, available to all provinces, for contact tracing. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.