Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

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

Quick links:

Partners and professionals:

Facebook Live: Return to School | Recorded Sept. 9, 2020

View the Sept. 9 FB Live transcript [PDF].

Our intake phone line Health Line is available at 1-888-221-2133 ext. 3267.

Health Line is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Calls left as phone messages on Sunday will be dealt with on the next business day.

Health Line is closed on statutory holidays. Health Line will operate on Sundays rather than Saturdays on long weekends.

Please be advised that we have been experiencing high call volumes. Thank you for your patience. You may be able to find answers to your questions on our website. Please read this page fully.

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.

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.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • runny nose

As we learn more about the virus, this list of symptoms may change; visit the Ontario Ministry of Health website for the latest list of symptoms.

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.

Childcare

For parents whose child/ren are attending a childcare centre or home daycare:

  • Use our daily screening tool: Should My Child Attend Childcare? to assess the health of your child/ren each morning and determine whether they can go to childcare
  • If your child becomes sick during the day at childcare, your child will be separated from other children and supervised by a staff member until you are able to pick them up. You will then be advised to complete the screening tool for your sick child and follow the directions.

For staff who work in a childcare centre or home daycare:

For childcare operators:

Local public health response

  • Current Huron Perth Public Health activities include:
    • surveillance
    • performing 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 respond to 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.

 How to protect against COVID-19

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact. Close physical contact means:

  • being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area for over 15 minutes
  • living in the same home

There is currently no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19, 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
  • practice safe food handling: shopping, cooking and preparation

If you are an essential worker, review COVID-19: Don't Take It Home! A Guide for Essential Workers.

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.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

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

Physical distancing and social circles

Physical distancing is a public health measure that can delay and decrease the number of cases of COVID-19 over time so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system. 

The province of Ontario has set indoor and outdoor gathering limits. In all cases, individuals are required to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres with people from outside their households or social circles.

Social circles

The province encourages Ontarians to establish a social "circle" of no more than 10 people who can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing. Learn more about the difference between gatherings and social circles as well as how to form a social circle

Social circles, physical distancing and social gatherings

There are considerations before you create or add people to a social circle.

People may, or may not, choose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance, and risk of developing complications from COVID-19, for example people:

  • over 70
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.

Huron Perth Public Health asks everyone to be mindful of their choices with people outside of their social circle. The more people with which you interact, the greater the risk of COVID-19 transmission. We all want to protect our social circles so we need to be careful with our other choices. 

Think about the basic principles:

  • You have an inner social group with whom you can hug, eat, car pool, etc.  
  • You want to protect everyone within that group and be careful about not putting these people at risk with choices you make outside of the social circle.  

Please note that social or public gatherings may include different social circles, but are subject to gathering limits and physical distancing of at least 2 metres. 

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.

 Events and gatherings

The province of Ontario has placed restrictions on events and gatherings

Please note that people gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 percent of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2.

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:

These are HPPH recommendations for people regarding gatherings:

  • Stay home if you are ill.
  • It’s still important that people from different households do not gather inside one household, and do not share food and drinks, unless you are all part of the same social circle.
  • If you have questions about whether you are in conflict with provincial requirements, please contact your local police force for clarification.

Demonstrations

Public Health recognizes that people may be drawn out in peaceful demonstration at this time and that this could put them at risk of exposure to COVID-19. We encourage anyone exercising their rights to demonstrate peacefully do so COVID-safely and take precautions to protect your health, and the health of families, friends and communities during the pandemic. Learn more about COVID-19 precautions and peaceful demonstrations.

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.

To slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. This order applies to all travellers arriving in Canada.

Under this order, if you have recently returned to Canada you must self-isolate (quarantine) and stay home whether you have symptoms or not. Even if you do not have symptoms right away, you are at risk of developing them and infecting others.

If you need it, you will get immediate medical attention when you arrive in Canada.

For more information, see the Government of Canada's latest COVID-19 travel restrictions, exemptions and advice.

If you have a concern about people who are not self-isolating when returning from affected areas, contact your local police services.

 Places of worship

The provincial government is permitting places of worship to reopen and has eased restrictions on religious services, rites, and ceremonies. All services, rites and ceremonies must adhere to O. Reg. 364/20 Rules for Areas in Stage 3.

For more information, please see the Ministry of Health document, COVID-19 Advice: Religious Services, Rites or Ceremonies, and the Guidance on Health and Safety for Places of Worship  During COVID-19.

For guidance planning indoor or outdoor gatherings, please see Toronto Public Health's Guidance for Planning a Wedding, Planning a Funeral Reception or Celebration of Life, and Guidance for Indoor & Outdoor Events.

For more information

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

Frequently Asked Questions