The Northwestern Health Unit says households should have a number of essential items on-hand, in the event that you have to self-isolate.

The NWHU says items to purchase include pain relief medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables, non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products and cleaning supplies.

“It is likely that many households will need to self-isolate within the coming days and weeks,” said Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young Hoon, during her weekly briefing with regional media members on January 11.

The NWHU’s message comes due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant and high percent test positivity rates.

As of January 11, the NWHU is reporting a total of 365 active cases of COVID-19 across their catchment area, with 7 current hospitalizations.

The cases are broken down as 153 cases in the Kenora health hub, 146 in Sioux Lookout, 27 in Fort Frances, 21 in Dryden, 6 in Rainy River, and 4 in each of Red Lake, Emo and Atikokan.

New guidelines from the province state that anyone with symptoms should self-isolate for 5 days if fully vaccinated or under 12 years old, or 10 days for anyone not fully vaccinated that is over the age of 12.

As well, all household members must stay home while the symptomatic individual is isolating.

The NWHU says anyone with any cold or flu-like symptoms should assume they have COVID-19 and immediately begin their self-isolation period, especially as PCR testing is no longer widely available.

“People with symptoms of COVID-19 and their household members must self-isolate and should assume their illness is COVID-19. Testing is not necessary for those who do not live, work, or visit high-risk settings, as defined by the Ministry of Health,” added Young Hoon.

PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests are now being reserved for high-risk individuals who are considered the most vulnerable to COVID-19, hospital patients with severe symptoms and those working in the highest-risk settings.

The Ontario government announced their new lockdown measures on January 3, which are set to stay in effect until January 26 at the earliest.