Close contacts of COVID-19 cases don't need to self-isolate: BCCDC

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has changed its guidelines on self-isolation and managing COVID-19 at home as the Omicron variant of concern continues to surge in the province.

On Wednesday, the BCCDC updated its guidelines, which included changes to self-isolation directions.

The BCCDC says that close contacts of COVID-19 cases no longer have to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status.

However, people who are close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases should still monitor for symptoms, as should everyone in B.C., says the BCCDC. The organization adds that anyone who feels unwell should stay at home.

Other changes to the province's self-isolation guidelines include details on the length of self-isolation.

The BCCDC says that anyone who is fully vaccinated, or under the age of 18, who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate at home for five days – and until symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever.

After self-isolating for five days, the BCCDC says you should avoid non-essential visits to high-risk settings, such as care homes, for another five days.

If you are unvaccinated and 18 years of age or older, you must self-isolate for 10 days and until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever, says the BCCDC.

"These changes are a step toward enabling British Columbians to self-manage their illness and will help guide their actions to limit the spread of illness in our communities," said the BCCDC in a statement Thursday.

"Public health guidance always strives to strike a balance between preventing infection and limiting the harms caused by preventing people from participation in societal activities like working, going to school and socializing."

The BCCDC says the updated guidance comes as the "highly-transmissible" Omicron variant sweeps through the province, requiring a dynamic response to public health guidelines.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control expects further changes to public health guidelines to take place in the coming weeks.