WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor Essex County Health Unit is following provincial guidance and changing testing protocols for close contacts as COVID-19 Variants of Concern rise in the region.

The health unit said 511 local VOC cases have been identified in Windsor-Essex and 121 of the cases are still active. The dominant variant in the region is the B.1.1.7, a variant first found in the U.K. WECHU said there has been 430 cases of that variant in the region as of Monday.

New requirements for contacts:

Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Monday there are new testing protocols from the provincial government.

“All household members of symptomatic individuals are now required to quarantine until the symptomatic individual receives a negative test or an alternate diagnosis from a healthcare provider,” said Ahmed. “If you are positive from a point of care testing by the public health unit, we will initiate a full case and contact management.”

He said all VOC cases and their contacts are prioritized at WECHU.

There is also a new, lower threshold for what is considered a close contact.

If you were in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19covid 19, even if you do not have symptoms, the province says you should:

  • repeat testing on or after day 10 of your quarantine
  • stay home (except for essential reasons) if someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining, until they receive a negative test result

“Sometimes what happens is, individuals just go and get tested two to three days after the initial test, which could be a negative because of the incubation period, so especially in the VOC cases we would want everyone to get tested again at day 10 if they were previously tested in the earlier time,” said Ahmed.

WECHU reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Monday for a total of 457 active cases. There are 12 people with confirmed cases in the hospital and eight people are in the ICU.