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Order of the Medical Officer of Health – COVID-19 Class Order

Northwestern Health Unit has issued a Class Section 22 Order under the Health Protection & Promotion Act (HPPA) for our service area. Note that First Nation community leadership will determine whether the order may apply in their community.

About the COVID-19 C​​lass Order

Made pursuant to Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, R.S.O. 1​990, c. H.7 Revised 23 June 2021.

What is a Class Or​​der?

A Class Order is a legal order that enables Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) to enforce self-isolation requirements for the group of individuals that it applies to. These efforts are being made to protect the region from potential exposure to COVID-19. Self-isolation, and contact tracing to reach those who need to self-isolate are important steps that need to be taken in order to protect the community from COVID-19 transmission.

Who is re​quired to self-isolate und​​er this Class Order?​

Effective February 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the Order applies to all persons residing in or present in the Northwestern Health Unit region who:

  1. Are a confirmed case or probable case of COVID-19;
  2. Have new symptoms (even mild symptoms) or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results of their tests;
  3. Otherwise have reasonable grounds to believe they now have symptoms (even mild symptoms) of COVID-19, or have had such symptoms within the past 10 days; and have not had a COVID test since developing those symptoms;
  4. Are a close contact of a person identified in a) and have new symptoms of COVID-19
  5. Are a close contact of a person identified in a) and have no symptoms and they have either not completed a 2 dose vaccine series, or it has been less than 14 days since completing the 2nd even if they do not themselves have any symptoms of COVID-19; or
  6. Are a parent, or person with responsibilities of a parent, of a person under 16 years of age in a), b), c) or d) who resides or is present in the Northwestern Health Unit region, and that parent has not completed 2 COVID-19 vaccine doses more than 14 days prior to being identified as a contact.

​People in categories a), b), c) and d) above must self-isolate and follow all directions in the Order. There is information about self-isolating on the health unit’s website at​.

First Nation leadership will determine if this order may apply in their community.​

To determine whether your symptoms require isolation and testing, please use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool or the COVID-19 School and child care screening tool for children and school-aged persons.​

Close Contact means a person who, within the past 14 days, has had a high-risk exposure to a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case. For example, a person who:

  • Lived with or otherwise had close, unprotected and prolonged contact, e.g., within 2 metres (6 feet) for more than 15 minutes, with a confirmed case of COVID-19 during their period of communicability (infectiousness); or
  • Has been identified by Northwestern Health Unit or another public health unit as a close contact.

What does self–isol​at​e mean?

For information on self-isolation visit our self-isolation page. To learn how to self-isolate please review Public Health Ontario’s self-isolation document.​

What if my symptoms are caused by another illness?

If you have symptoms that you know are related to other known causes or conditions, then this Order may not apply to you. To determine whether your symptoms require isolation and testing, please use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool or the COVID-19 School and child care screening tool for a child.

What should I do if my symptoms gets worse while I am self-isolating?

Seek immediate medical attention if your illness is worsening (for example, you have difficulty breathing) by calling 9-1-1. Tell them of your COVID-19 diagnosis or symptom(s) and answer all screening questions accurately (including symptoms and travel history) so that you will receive appropriate care and to ensure the appropriate level of infection prevention and control precautions are taken.

​​What does it mean to self-i​solate under the Class Order?

Individuals who are affected by the class order are required to stay at home and not have visitors, except when deemed essential (for example, a health care worker visiting th​e home). The other actions required while self-isolating are explained in the Class Order and the Public Health Ontario fact sheet, How to Self-Isolate​.

While self-isolating, people must remain reachable for monitoring by public health. This helps the Health Unit ensure the person is doing what is required and to identify if they need support while self-isolating.

People in self-isolation should arrange to have groceries and other necessities delivered to them. 

Why are we doing this now?

Throughout the pandemic. there have been a small number of incidents across the region of people not following self-isolation requirements for COVID-19. For some of those people, NWHU issued an individual Section 22 Order to self-isolate when other options did not work. Now, with the concerns of variants of the virus and with the provincial shutdown being lifted, it is more important than ever that anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19, who has COVID-19, or who is a high-risk contact of someone with COVID-19 should self-isolate. A high risk contact who has completed 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine 14 days or more before becoming a high risk contact does not have to self-isolate unless that person develops new COVID-19 symptoms.

If the variants of concern spread in our region – the impacts could be devastating. These viruses spread more rapidly, affect more people and may overwhelm our health care system. One of the variants also increases the risk of death.

Under what authority has this Class Order been issued?

On February 16, 2021, Northwestern Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, taking effect on February 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.. This Act authorizes a Class Order to be issued to address the risks presented by the potential spread of COVID-19 to people who reside or are present in the Northwestern Health Unit service area.

Does this class order apply in a First Nations community? 

Northwestern Heath Unit recognizes and supports First Nations’ right to self-determination and culturally appropriate public health programs and​ services for their communities.  

First Nations community leadership will determine whether the Order will​ apply in their community.  

Delivery of public health programs and services on reserve is a function and responsibility of the federal government through the First Nations Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada.  Since there is no federal legislation to provide for an order of this kind, however, Northwest​ern Health Unit can work with First Nations communities who wish to allow such orders through a Memorandum of Understanding. 

Why did the Medical Officer of Health issue this class order?

This Class Order is a legal tool to help the Health Unit ensure that everyone who needs to self-isolate, complies with that direction. The Order strengthens NWHU’s ability to reduce the illness and loss of life from COVID-19, and to preserve and protect the capacity of our health care system to respond and provide care to those who need it.

How does the Medical Officer of Health's Class Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act differ from the federal order under the Quarantine Act?

The federal government's quarantine order is aimed at all travellers entering Canada, effective March 25, 2020. That Order also imposes a 14-day home quarantine (self-isolation) on travellers regardless whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. See the Government of Canada’s instructions for travellers from outside Canada for more information.

In some cases, individuals subject to home quarantine or isolation measures under the federal quarantine order may also be subject to the Class Order issued by the Northwestern Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health (​for example, individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have also recently returned from travel).

When is the class order effective? How long must people self-isolate?

The class order is effective from February 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will remain in effect until the Medical Officer of Health determines it is no longer required. Isolation time is generally 10 days for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and 14 days for individuals who are high risk close contacts. Public health will inform individuals the exact length of isolation.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, modifications to the Class Order can be made for the following people:
  • a person who, in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health, provides an essential service, for the limited purpose of providing that essential service;
  • a person receiving essential medical services or treatments, whether related to COVID-19 or not; or
  • where a person’s isolation, in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health, would not be in the public interest.

How could the Class Order be enforced if a person does not self-isolate?

As is our general practice with these kinds of orders, NWHU will attempt to engage directly with a person failing to self-isolate (or to take other important steps) to make sure that they understand what is required of them, and to see if they need support in an effort to gain voluntary compliance. If these efforts are unsuccessful, the Medial Officer of Health will consider the need for legal action to compel compliance.

What are the consequences if caught violating the order?

Individua​ls who are required to self-isolate by this Class Order but fail to do so can be charged and fined from $750 up to $5,000 per day. 

The focus with this Order is people who have tested positive f​or COVID-19, those who have been told by NWHU that they are close contacts, and those who have symptoms that cannot be explained by some other condition. Enforcement activities will focus on people who are already in contact with NWHU or other COVID-19 service providers.

The Heath Protec​tion and Promotion Act also allows the Medical Officer of Health to go to court and seek an order to protect the health of the community, e.g., by taking the person into custody to be confined in a hospital or other appropriate facility until the self-isolation period is over, or requiring compliance with other public health directions.

Can a person challenge the Class Order?

Any person subject to the Class Order may request a hearing by the Health Services Appeal and Review Board to challenge its requirements. Refer to the Class Order for details.

If I test positive for COVID-19 why do I have to provide contact names and other information to public health? How is my privacy protected?

People required to self-isolate must, if asked, share with public health the names and contact information, and any other information that may be requested, for all people with whom they had contact while likely infectious. Pro​viding this information is crucial. It enables public health to act to prevent disease transmission to others. We do not share your name with your contacts. Our shared ability to keep schools, businesses and other important community activities open in the Northwestern Health Unit region and across Ontario depends on public health’s ability to do this important work.

Public health understands that people will have concerns about their privacy. All information collected by public health is protected by Ontario’s privacy legislation for health information, the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004.