Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) is working with the provincial and federal governments, and our local partners and stakeholders to respond to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

April 1, 2020 - Statement to Huron and Perth residents by Dr. Miriam Klassen:

Read the full transcript of Dr. Klassen's message.

Our Health Line intake phone line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Please be advised that we have been experiencing high call volumes. Thank you for your patience. Please read this web page fully for the latest information and recommendations.

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.

For fact sheets, posters and signs see our COVID-19 Resources page.

About COVID-19

On December 31, 2019, a cluster of cases of pneumonia was reported in Wuhan, China, and the cause has been confirmed as a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. This virus is now known as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Common symptoms of novel coronavirus include:

  • fever
  • cough and respiratory symptoms
  • difficulty breathing

Those who are medically at the highest risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 for HPPH

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised** including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
    • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk
    • People with diabetes

**Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including

  • cancer treatment,
  • bone marrow or solid organ transplantation,
  • immune deficiencies including congenital and primary immunodeficiency
  • HIV or AIDS
  • rheumatological disease
  • gastrointestinal disease
  • severe burns
  • And those who are:
    • taking selective immunomodulators (i.e. anti-TNF agents, azathioprine, MMF and all immunosuppressive agents).
    • taking long-term steroid therapy
    • prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    • in a severely malnourished state

Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

There are everyday actions you can take to stay healthy and help prevent the spread of germs.

Latest news

COVID-19 in Huron and Perth 

For COVID-19 testing data in Huron and Perth, please visit COVID-19 in Huron and Perth.

 How is COVID-19 spread?

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses.

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 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
  • stay home if you are sick

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

  • It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses.
  • Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on 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).

Cleaning

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

Although they do not claim to kill viruses such as COVID-19, cleaners can play a role in helping limit the transfer of microorganisms.

Health Canada recommends cleaning often, using either regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) the following high-touch surfaces:

  • toys
  • toilets
  • phones
  • electronics
  • door handles
  • bedside tables
  • television remotes

Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Should I wear a mask and/or gloves?

The Public Health Agency of Canada does not generally recommend the use of masks in well people to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, the province has recommendations about masks if you are self-isolating OR masks if you are taking care of someone with COVID-19.

Gloves cannot replace hand washing and as such are not recommended for well people to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hand washing is best.

PPE Donations

If you are looking to donate new, manufactured PPE contact your local hospital, long term care home, retirement home, primary care provider or emergency service.

Innovative Medical Supply Ideas

If your business, research institution, or organization can provide emergency products and innovative solutions to support the response to COVID-19, please visit www.ontario.ca/ontariotogether

 Self-monitoring and self-isolation
  • Many people are being asked to self isolate. Self-isolation instructions vary for each person's situation. Find the latest information for different self-isolation situations on our self-isolation information page.
  • Follow these instructions on How to Self Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you develop novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care.
  • If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history.
  • Visit our resources on self-monitoring and self-isolation

What if I see someone not practicing self-isolation?

As of March 26, an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are a few exceptions, please see Public Health Agency of Canada's latest instructions for travellers.

If you have a concern about people who are not self-isolating when returning from affected areas, and your local police force is Huron County OPP or Perth County OPP, call 1-888-310-1122.    

If you are concerned about a person's actions, we encourage you to have a respectful conversation with that person and remind them about the current recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community. You can direct them to our website for the latest recommendations.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing, including self-monitoring and self-isolation, are public health measures that can delay and decrease the number of cases of COVID-19 over time so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system. 

Through emergency orders, the province of Ontario has placed restrictions on gatherings in order to ensure physical distancing. Please see the province’s latest instructions on their emergency information page.

Even if you have not been instructed to self-isolate, we strongly encourage you to stay home except for essential reasons, such as to:

  • Access health care services
  • Shop for groceries
  • Pick-up medication at the pharmacy
  • Walk pets when required
  • Support vulnerable community members with meeting the above needs.

To the fullest extent possible, you should also limit the number of these essential trips. However, when you are out in public you must adhere to physical distancing by reducing your exposure to other people outside of your household by keeping two metres from other people.

Avoid heading to your cottage or seasonal residence. These communities have more limited healthcare services than the city, and local essential businesses may have longer waits to restock grocery and other supplies needed for their permanent residents. See the County of Huron's message for Huron County cottagers.

These measures help protect yourself and others in our community. We are all in this together.

 Testing for COVID-19

If someone is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough or fever:

  1. Complete the Ontario government’s Online Assessment tool
  2. If the online tool tells you to seek clinical assessment contact the office of your family doctor for a phone assessment. It is important that you do not visit your doctor’s office without calling first. If you do not have a family doctor, contact Huron Perth Public Health. Please have your Ontario Health Card number ready. 
  3. If further action is needed, you will be given directions by the assessor.

For those without access to a computer, contact the office of your family doctor for a phone assessment. If you do not have a family doctor, contact Huron Perth Public Health. Please have your Ontario Health Card number ready. 

Given the evolving situation and the need to ensure that those who may need more elevated levels of care are able to receive the assessment and care that they need, Ontario updated its recommendations for testing. In general, testing will be prioritized for people who need hospital care or certain groups of people, such as health care workers or those in long-term care homes or retirement homes.

Local public health response
  • Current Huron Perth Public Health activities include:
    • surveillance
    • preparing for case management (such as assisting with self-isolation) and contact tracing
    • communications
    • leading local collaboration
    • acting as liaison with the Ontario Health Regional Planning Table, and
    • facilitating regional plans.
  • Huron Perth Public Health has a strong partnership with local hospitals and healthcare providers and are working together to monitor the situation.
  • COVID-19 is now 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 spread of infection.
  • For a suspected or confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Huron or Perth, HPPH works with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario Laboratory, and local hospitals in the management of the case and any contacts.
  • Learn about the public health response in Ontario.
Recommendations for travellers

The Government of Canada has put an official global travel advisory into effect: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. View the latest travel advisories related to COVID-19.

 

Residents of Huron and Perth who have returned from travelling in Italy, Iran or Hubei province, including Wuhan City, should:

Residents of Huron and Perth who have returned from any other country, including the United States:

 

If you have a concern about people who are not self-isolating when returning from affected areas, and your local police force is Huron County OPP or Perth County OPP, call 1-888-310-1122.  

Events and mass gatherings

Through emergency orders, the province of Ontario has placed restrictions on events and mass gatherings. Please see the province’s latest instructions on their emergency information page

Does the emergency order prohibiting public gatherings of more than 5 people apply to funerals?

  • Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.
Employers, workplaces, and operators

Through emergency orders, the province has placed restrictions on businesses and workplaces. Please see the province’s latest instructions on their emergency information page, including the province's list of essential workplaces.

Please visit our COVID-19 Information for Workplaces and Employers page for further information for:

  • Employers and employees
  • Workplaces
  • Healthcare workers
  • Food premises operators
  • Personal Service Settings
Schools, daycares and programming for children

Through emergency orders, the province of Ontario has placed restrictions on the operation of schools and daycares. Please see the province’s latest instructions on their emergency information page

Information for healthcare providers

Visit our COVID-19 - Health Professionals page to view the latest COVID-19 novel coronavirus information for healthcare providers.

Mental health and coping

It is normal to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. Learn more about:

Food banks and community meal programs

Operating hours of food banks and community meal programs

Due to COVID-19, food banks and community meal programs may have implemented different hours of operation or are closed.  Public Health has been working with our local food banks and community meal programs to ensure they can operate safely and prevent the spread of illness. 

Food banks and organizations that provide community meal programs understand that families may be under additional stress. They are trying their best to meet the needs of the communities they serve without jeopardizing the health of their staff, volunteers and clients.

Food banks have been supported to operate with appropriate precautions put in place.  Please call your local food bank to make an appointment. To find a food bank in your community, please go to 211 Ontario.

Guidance for food bank and community meal program operators

If you offer a community meal to the public, dine-in options are not permitted under any circumstances. Your community meal can only be offered if you can provide a take-out option and limit social interactions between people. If you provide a take-out option, the following must be considered:

  • To protect staff, volunteers and patrons, do not allow patrons to wait inside the premises for food orders to be ready. As an alternative, you could:
    • Deliver the take-out order to their car
    • Have them wait in their car until you text or call them that their meal(s) are ready
    • Provide a door-to-door service if you have the capacity to do so and appropriate containers for transporting food safely
  • Continue to follow good hygiene practices and infection control practices to ensure:
    • Staff and volunteers are not working if they are sick
    • Staff and volunteers are washing hands frequently to minimize the chance of getting infected.
    • That regular and routine cleaning and disinfecting of the facility is continuing, especially high touch surfaces and objects.

If you have questions about how to safely operate your specific food bank or community meal program,  please email inspections@hpph.ca or refer to our COVID-19 factsheet Food Premises Operators/business owners.

For more information

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

Frequently Asked Questions