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).

Dr. Miriam Klassen Facebook Live, recorded May 13, 2020.

Read the Facebook Live transcript [PDF].

Our phone intake line Health Line is available at 1-888-221-2133 ext. 3267. Health Line is open every day of the week and over the weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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.

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.

News releases and advisories

COVID-19 in Huron and Perth 

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

 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 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.

Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE)

Should I wear a mask and/or gloves?

The province of Ontario now recommends that you use a face covering (non-medical mask such as a cloth mask) to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 when physical distancing and keeping two-metres’ distance from others may be challenging or not possible. Please see the province of Ontario's latest instructions on masks as well as this factsheet on non-medical masks and face coverings.

For information on local availability of non-medical masks, such as cloth masks, visit Huron Perth COVID-19 Resource Group: Help is Close to Home.

All face coverings that cannot be cleaned should be thrown out and replaced as soon as they get slightly wet, dirty or crumpled. Remember to dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin. Do not leave discarded masks or gloves in shopping carts, on the ground, etc.

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 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. 

Through emergency orders, the province of Ontario has placed restrictions on gatherings in order to ensure physical distancing. 

Even if you have not been instructed to self-isolate, we strongly encourage you to stay home whenever possible. 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 2 metres from other people.

Spring and summer activities

With warmer weather upon us and outdoor recreation areas opening up, these are HPPH recommendations for people regarding gatherings:

  • It is permitted to visit with a person who is not a member of your immediate household as long as you are outside, maintaining a 2-metre distance from each other,
  • It’s still important that people from different households do not gather inside one household, and do not share food and drinks.
  • Remember that there are provincial emergency orders limiting the size of gatherings. If you have questions about whether you are contravening the emergency order, please contact your local police force for clarification.

For information on activities such as boating, going to cottages, yard sales, etc. please see COVID-19: Spring and Summer Activities.

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.

 Testing, tracing and results for COVID-19

Getting tested

Testing is available now for the following:

  • All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms.
  • People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
  • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).

How to get tested

  • Complete the Ontario government’s Online Assessment tool or call your local healthcare provider.
  • If you do not have a family doctor, contact Huron Perth Public Health (1-888-221-2133 ext. 3267) and have your Health Card number ready. 
    • If you call in to HPPH during our regular business hours, you will be sent for testing that same day. If you call after hours (past 4:30 p.m.), we will call you back the next day, even on weekends.
  • Once you have been assessed, an appointment will be made at a testing centre convenient for you.
  • Testing is available every day of the week at testing collection sites across Huron-Perth - by appointment so that the staff at the testing centre can be prepared for your visit and to also reduce potential wait times.

Getting test results

  • Turnaround time for test results varies.
  • Residents of Ontario who have been tested for COVID-19 can now view their test results online.
  • If your test results do not appear online within a week, contact Huron Perth Public Health.

Contact tracing

  • If you are symptomatic and sent for testing, you will be told to isolate at home immediately.
  • Any close contacts who were in contact with you in the 48 hours before your symptoms started will also be told to isolate and to contact HPPH if they develop any symptoms.
  • Huron Perth Public Health will follow up with you and your contacts as needed during this time.
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.
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.

Events and gatherings

Through emergency orders, the province of Ontario has placed restrictions on events and gatherings

Police are responsible for enforcing emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Please note that some public health directions are strong recommendations, but may not be part of an emergency order.

Local police:

With warmer weather upon us and outdoor recreation areas opening up, these are HPPH recommendations for people regarding gatherings:

  • It is permitted to visit with a person who is not a member of your immediate household as long as you are outside, maintaining a two-metre distance from each other,
  • It’s still important that people from different households do not gather inside one household, and do not share food and drinks.
  • Remember that there are provincial emergency orders limiting the size of gatherings. If you have questions about whether you are contravening the emergency order, please contact your local police force for clarification.
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: Workplaces, Employers and Employees 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

Healthcare providers, long-term care and retirement homes

Visit our COVID-19 - Health Professionals page to view the latest COVID-19 novel coronavirus information for healthcare providers, long-term care and retirement homes.

Mental health and coping

It is normal to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, scared or angry during a crisis. Visit our COVID-19 and mental health page to learn more about help available.

Community and Social Services

For information on community and social services during COVID-19, including food banks and community meal programs, please see COVID-19 Information: Community and Social Services.

For more information

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

Frequently Asked Questions