Guidance for health care providers, long-term care homes, and retirement homes (COVID-19)

This page is under review. The Sudbury and Manitoulin districts are subject to the measures in Ontario’s Step 3 Rules. Please refer to O. Reg. 364/20 Rules for Areas at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step (Ontario Government) for the complete list of measures and conditions that apply to certain businesses, organizations, places, and individuals.

In response to the rapid rise in Omicron cases, the provincial case and contact management processes are changing. Public Health will focus on case management of high-risk individuals as well as high-priority contact tracing and outbreak management for individuals and settings such as hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, other congregate living settings and institutions, and other evolving groups. Across the province, PCR testing will be prioritized for high-risk individuals and settings.

On this page:

Vaccine rollout

Locally, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is actively distributing and administering first, second, third and fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as applicable, in area communities including through engagement with local stakeholders. Additionally, all staff, visitors, and residents of long-term care homes (LTCH) and retirement homes (RH) are strongly encouraged to receive the annual influenza vaccine.

For a complete list of resources to support planning and implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination, please review our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Communications in a Box.

Health care workers


Health care workers that have symptoms of COVID-19 and work in any of the highest risk settings must self-isolate immediately and seek testing (Government of Ontario, PDF).  Rapid antigen testing has been prioritized for highest risk settings for use for test-to-work (Government of Ontario, PDF) strategies to support early return to work when required for critical staffing. Highest risk settings include hospitals (including complex continuing care facilities and paramedic services) and congregate living settings (including long-term care homes, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, and correctional institutions).

In addition, free rapid antigen tests are now available to the general public at participating pharmacies, groceries, and community partners (Government of Ontario).

Read the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge Management of Critical Staffing Shortages in Highest Risk Settings (PDF) for more information on testing requirements.

Self-isolation and illness

If you are a health care worker and have symptoms of COVID-19, immediately self-isolate (learn how),notify your employer or occupational health and safety department and seek testing.

Staff presenting with new symptoms compatible with COVID-19, including atypical symptoms, must be rapidly identified, investigated, and managed, including ensuring access to testing. Symptomatic staff awaiting test results must be off work and on isolation. Learn more about who is eligible for testing.

Management of critical staffing shortages in highest risk settings

To support the management of critical staffing shortages in highest risk settings, test-to-work strategy (Government of Ontario, PDF 314 KB) may be implemented, in which staff are able to return to work when they would otherwise be required to self-isolate or otherwise not attend work for 10 days from last exposure. Highest-risk settings considering this approach are to consult with Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

There are also a number of Ministry of Health guidance documents for health and other sectors available on the Ministry’s website for further information.

Long-term care homes and retirement homes

Long-term care homes must ensure that all measures outlined in Directive #3 of the Chief Medical Officer of Health are in place. Retirement homes are required to take all reasonable steps to follow this directive. Although it is acknowledged that certain measures are more intense than would be implemented for other respiratory diseases, the provincial directives are developed to be proportional to the risk and ensure that we are providing the best protection we can to vulnerable residents and to staff.

As per Directive #3 of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, long-term care homes must have a plan for and use, to the extent possible, staff and resident cohorting as part of their approach to preparedness, as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 once identified in the home. For more information on cohorting, please consult the following Public Health Ontario resources:

Caregivers and visitors

A caregiver is an essential visitor who is visiting the home to provide direct care to help meet the essential needs of a particular resident. Caregivers must be at least 16 years of age and must be designated by the resident or his or her substitute decision-maker.

Learn more (Government of Ontario) about who can visit residents in long-term care homes.

Vaccination requirement

As of February 21, 2022, all caregivers must have at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine to enter a long-term care home, unless there is a valid medical exemption. All caregivers must provide proof of having received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by March 14, 2022, unless a valid medical exemption is processed by public health. Those who are only eligible to receive a third dose after March 14, 2022, must provide proof of a third dose within 30 days of becoming eligible.

Learn more about the vaccination requirements for caregivers entering long-term care homes (Government of Ontario).

Testing requirement

Caregivers, regardless of vaccination status must be tested in accordance with the Minister’s Directive (Government of Ontario).

Direct communications from Public Health Sudbury & Districts

Public Health update in light of COVID-19 variants of concern (February 24, 2021)

Medical Officer of Health COVID-19 Data presentation to the Sudbury Medical Society, April 9, 2020 (PDF, 2 MB)

Advisory Alerts and clinical guidance issued by Public Health Sudbury & Districts

Helpful links

Public Health Sudbury & Districts

Public Health Agency of Canada

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): For health professionals

Ontario Ministry of Health

Guidance for the health sector

Case definition

Guidance documents for:

Public Health Ontario

This item was last modified on February 28, 2022