Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Roadmap to Reopen: Effective January 5, 2022 at 12:01 am, the Ontario government is temporarily moving the province into a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen due to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Time-limited public health measures, including reduced capacity limits, will be in effect during this time. Please continue to follow all public health measures, advice and restrictions

COVID-19 Quick Links

Partners and professionals

HPPH Joint Letter of Recommendation

On December 9, 2021, the Medical Officers of Health for Huron Perth Public Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health issued a joint Letter of Recommendation to their communities. These recommendations apply to all residents of these health unit regions and are intended to keep transmission down in the context of rising cases and the introduction of a new COVID-19 variant of concern. The recommendations come into effect immediately and will be reassessed in four weeks. See details and read the full letter below.

Letter of Recommendation 
To: Individuals and Workplaces in Huron County, Perth County, St Marys, Stratford, Middlesex County, the City of London, Oxford County, Elgin County, and the City of St. Thomas
Cases of COVID-19 are rising across the Province and across the communities served by Huron Perth Public Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit, and Southwestern Public Health. This rise in cases coincides with the recent identification of the Omicron variant of concern in the region, as well as the upcoming holiday season and the anticipated high number of private social gatherings.

Ontario’s Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables asserted on December 7, that COVID-19 cases are rising in most Public Health Units due to the Delta variant. Positivity is also rising. To control cases and the impact on our health care system, we need to increase vaccination and continue to use public health measures to reduce transmission now.

Even without Omicron, cases are expected to rise steadily, and ICU occupancy will subsequently increase. In South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first identified, there has been a rapid increase in daily cases, as well as hospital and ICU admissions.

It is time to reduce opportunities for transmission before our health care system is overwhelmed. This Letter provides strong recommendations that apply to every resident within the communities we serve. The particular focus is on private social gatherings in indoor environments. Experience, and Science Table modeling, have shown that decreasing the number of contacts predicts a decrease in case counts.

December is peak social gathering time in the region. Most households plan more than one multi-family gathering during the last two weeks of December.

While cases of COVID-19 do occur in people who are vaccinated, the illness experienced is shorter in duration and much less severe. Unvaccinated individuals are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and at a higher risk of experiencing severe health outcomes when they do become infected. The Delta variant, which is the dominant variant in Ontario, spreads quickly and easily, and will find those most susceptible. By reducing their number of close contacts, we can prevent serious illness and hospitalization in those who are most vulnerable to infection.

Finally, when we are not socializing, we are at work. High rates of vaccination are not universal within local workplaces and employees are at risk whenever they work in close contact with others. There have been more than 200 outbreaks across Southwestern Ontario over the past week; every sector has been affected.

Therefore, we strongly recommend:

  1. Everyone should limit indoor social gatherings in private dwellings to no more than 10 people. All attendees 12 years of age and older should be vaccinated.
  2. All unvaccinated individuals 12 years of age and older should avoid any non-essential indoor contact with individuals who are not part of their household.
  3. Where possible, individuals should work remotely.

These recommendations are effective immediately and will be reassessed in four weeks’ time.

The COVID-19 vaccines provide a high level of protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. According to the Ontario Science Table’s Fourth Wave dashboard, full-vaccination is associated with a 79.1% reduction in COVID-19 infection, a 92.9% reduction in hospital admission, and a 96.6% reduction in ICU admission. However, vaccines cannot do this work alone. A layered approach to applying public health measures is required.

This Letter of Recommendation is applicable to every resident in our communities; everyone has a role to play in reducing virus transmission and keeping themselves, their families, and their communities safer during what we hope will still be a joyful time of year.

COVID-19 Information

HPPH buildings are closed to the public so that we can focus our efforts on the COVID-19 response in our community. Please view our COVID-19 Response Service Interruptions page for a list of programs and services interruptions and modifications.

Travel

Travel restrictions are in place in Canada and globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-essential travel outside of Canada is not advised.

Travelling outside of Canada

  • If you are travelling internationally, check to see if there are any restrictions or requirements in your destination country. Also make sure you are aware of the requirements for your return to Canada.
  • Learn more from the Government of Canada.

Travelling within Canada

  • There are no federal requirements for travelling within Canada but there may be provincial or territorial rules and restrictions. Go to the province or territory website of your final destination to find out.

Events and gatherings

The Province of Ontario has placed restrictions on events and gatherings

Events and gatherings have the potential to increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, especially for those who are at high-risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19.

If you choose to hold or participate in an in-person gathering or event with people outside your household, here are some tips to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission:

  • COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the spread of COVID-19. Take the time to get your first or second dose of the vaccine if you haven’t already, or your booster dose if eligible.
  • avoid high-touch surfaces and wash your hands well and often and or use hand sanitizer, especially before preparing, serving and eating food
  • stay home if you are feeling ill, even with mild symptoms, or if you are in quarantine or self-isolating
  • cover your cough
  • keep gatherings as small as possible and do not exceed provincial gathering limits
  • limit the number of people you come into close contact with
  • follow public health measures and advice

Please refer to the most recent Ontario Regulations for current rules, regulations, and guidance. 

To learn more about organized events, see the province's latest information at COVID-19 Public Health Measures and Advice

Police are responsible for enforcing gathering limits. Please note that some public health directions are strong recommendations, but may not be part of a provincial order.

Local police:

If you have questions about whether you are in conflict with provincial requirements, please contact your local police force for clarification.

Places of worship

All religious services, rites and ceremonies must adhere to the limits set out under Step Two of the provincial Roadmap to Reopen and Ontario Regulation 263/20: Rules for Areas in Step 2.

See our COVID-19 Information: Places of Worship page for more information, guidance and frequently asked questions on religious services, ceremonies or rites, including HPPH's Letter of Instruction to Owners/Operators of Places of Worship in Huron and Perth Counties. 

Childcare

Licensed child care centres and home-based child care services are open and must follow all COVID-19 public health and safety measures.

See our COVID-19 Information: Child Care page for more information including guidance on screening, case and contact management and testing.

How to protect against COVID-19

COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. The virus spreads more easily in closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings.

Close contact means :

  • being within 2 metres of someone in the same room, workspace, or area for 15 minutes or longer; OR
  • living in the same home

Learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

Every day actions to protect yourself

Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
    • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • wear a mask or face covering
  • minimize the number of people you have close contact with
  • maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from people outside of your household
  • stay home if you are sick

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

  • Studies suggest that COVID-19 virus may live surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.
  • This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
  • The COVID-19 virus is most likely to be on surfaces you frequently touch with your hands. 

Cleaning

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces to lower the chance of COVID-19 spreading in your home, workplace and public spaces. 

  • toys
  • toilets
  • phones
  • electronics
  • faucets
  • door handles
  • light switches
  • bedside tables
  • television remotes

Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Physical distancing 
Physical distancing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from people outside of your household. 

When home isn't safe

For many survivors of domestic violence and seniors who experience abuse, staying home may not be the safest option. If home is not safe for you, please contact Optimism Place (24hr service women's shelter): 1-800-265-8598/519-271-5550, Emily Murphy Centre 1-888-826-8117/519-273-7350, or Huron County Women’s Shelter and Second Stage Housing and Counseling Services at 1-800-265-5506/ 519-524-6245. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Role of local public health 

Huron Perth Public Health leads the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our role includes:

  • surveillance
  • case management (such as assisting with self-isolation) and contact tracing
  • investigating outbreaks
  • communications
  • vaccine rollout

COVID-19 is a reportable disease in Ontario. This means healthcare providers and organizations are required to report any suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19 to local public health authorities, so that public health can take measures to contain the spread of infection.

For more information:

Be sure to read credible information regarding the novel coronavirus, including: