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More Ontario health units reallocating COVID-19 resources in light of Omicron

More public health units say they are changing their approach to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as cases surge due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Niagara Region Public Health says it is beginning to shift resources away from contact tracing to delivering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which it says can “better blunt” the Omicron wave.

It says case management and contact tracing will increasingly be handled by artificial intelligence and outsourced support.

The Hastings Prince Edward public health unit says it will no longer be able to call everyone who tests positive within a 48-hour period, and will instead focus on responding to cases in high-risk settings such as schools and long-term care.

The health unit says those who undergo testing should monitor the results online and contact their high-risk contacts if they test positive.

On Tuesday, Ontario’s top doctor said the province is preparing to change its strategy on COVID-19 testing and case management in light of Omicron, with guidance expected in the coming days.

Earlier this week, Ottawa Public Health asked residents who show symptoms of COVID-19 but can’t book a test quickly to assume they are infected and self-isolate.

Health officials in Kingston, Ont., also reported a strain on testing resources last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2021.

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