TORONTO -- Ontario health care workers are now being ordered to stay at home in self-isolation for 14 days if they travelled outside the country, as the province looks to standardize its policy for front-line staff.

Health Minister Christine Elliott acknowledged that nurses had raised concerns about being told to return to work despite travelling outside the country, but said health care workers are subject to the same rules as members of the general public.

“We need to apply the best scientific evidence and best practices to everyone. You can't have a separate category for healthcare workers. It is what it is, the isolation period is 14 days, and it needs to apply to everyone,” Elliott said.

“We know that it's especially important for front-line health-care workers because they're dealing with patients, some of whom may have COVID-19, or who have other more compromised conditions such as cancer.”

The issue was raised Wednesday at the provincial health command table, where all COVID-19 issues and the provincial response were discussed. The decision was made by the province to send out an official memo to hospitals to clarify that health care workers should be isolated after travel.

The order was immediately shared with doctors, nurses and other health care providers at William Osler Health System, which oversees one of the COVID-19 assessment centers.

“Effective immediately, any staff, physician or volunteer who has returned from travel after March 13 is being asked to self-isolate for 14 days,” read an email obtained by CTV News Toronto.

“The health of everyone at Osler and providing a safe environment to work and care for patients, families and our community is our top priority.”

Elliott said the rule would apply whether the employee is exhibiting symptoms, or is asymptomatic.