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Symptomatic employees should stay home regardless of PCR testing, Ministry of Health says

Both PCR tests and rapid tests are valid results to confirm COVID, Ministry of Health says
Covid swab PCR test doctor
The number of active COVID-19 cases is on the rise across Canada, as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

Employers should be allowing staff to take time off work if they show symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of an employee’s ability to produce a PCR test result, according to the Ministry of Health.

After reports that some employers are requiring a positive PCR test result or doctors’ note for their staff to stay home from work, the ministry said workplaces need to be understanding.

“We ask that employers are understanding of the current situation and accept that their staff may be unable to work due to testing positive with either PCR or rapid tests, or because they are exhibiting symptoms and are feeling sick,” the ministry said in an email to Castanet News.

“Every workplace should be factoring in having sick employees off of work and incorporate that into their business continuity planning.”

The province has asked that those younger than 65 who are not high risk or an essential worker avoid receiving a PCR test, and instead, self-isolate for five to ten days, depending on vaccination status. Those who are symptomatic or who have been exposed are offered take-home rapid tests at some testing centres.

The ministry said both PCR and rapid tests are recognized as valid results to confirm COVID-19 cases. The changes were made because B.C.'s testing system has been at capacity for several weeks.

“Public health recommends that people stay home if they test positive for COVID-19 or are sick or not feeling well to keep people safe from COVID-19,” the ministry of health said.

“If someone has tested positive for COVID-19 or has COVID-19 symptoms they should stay in isolation for five days from the onset of symptoms or until they feel better. Unvaccinated individuals are required to isolate for ten days.”

The ministry said anyone experiencing symptoms should call 811 or use the provinces’ self assessment app to determine if they need a test.

According to the Ministry of Health, if an employee is unsure if they are well enough to return to work, they should call 811 or their health care provider.