Last updated: September 20, 2021
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?
HPEPH is notified of every positive COVID-19 and we call every person who has tested positive. The call will be from a Communicable Disease Investigator (CDI) and it is important that you provide them with all of the information that they ask for. You will not get in trouble for disclosing details and all the information you provide will be kept confidential. In Canada, Public Health is bound by privacy legislation. Ontario has a law called the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPPA). This law means that any person who has access to personal health information must keep it private. This information will not be shared with any other parties – including immigration authorities.
If Public Health calls you to discuss COVID-19, they may ask you how many people live in your home, and how much money you make. The case manager will ask what your first language is and what you identify your race to be. This information is not collected to get you in trouble. This information is kept private and used to better understand who needs help in our communities. It also helps us know how we can help you. The CDI will also ask other questions about where you work, and what activities you have been involved in the few days before your positive result. This helps us with our contact tracing and helps us identify and people that we may deem High-Risk or Low-Risk Close Contacts. To learn more about contract tracing please watch the video below:
What happens if Public Health tells me I am a high-risk contact of a person with COVID- 19?
If you have received a letter or phone call from Public Health that says you are a high-risk contact, this means you have been in close contact with someone who has the virus. To keep yourself and others safe, you will need to follow the instructions as described by your case manager. If you are not yet fully immunized (e.g. it has been less than 14 days since your second dose), this will include isolating from others in your household, not going to work or school and staying in isolation until it has been 10 days since your last exposure. Self-isolation is a legal requirement under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Should you ignore this requirement, you may be charged and fined up to $5,000 per day for each day you are not in self-isolation. You will also be recommended that you seek testing for COVID-19 during your isolation, however even if you receive a negative result you must complete your full 10 days of isolation. If you are fully immunized (e.g. it has been 14 or more days since your second dose), for the next 10 days you should self monitor, follow public health measures like wearing a mask outside of your house, and self-isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
The members of your household must also avoid any non-essential outings or gatherings for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period. This means only leaving home for essential reasons such as attending work or school or childcare, doing errands for food and medication, or attending essential medical appointments.
What happens when someone at my child’s school or child care facility tests positive for COVID-19?
HPEPH works closely with schools and child care facilities to respond to situations where an individual tests positive for COVID-19. Typically, not all children in the school/child care environment are affected. If there is a case at your child’s school/child care facility, you will be notified by phone, email, or both, and provided with specific instructions based on the level of contact that might have occurred between the individual who tested positive and your own child. For more information, visit our School and COVID-19 page.
What happens if I get an automated call or email from Public Health stating that I (or my child) have been deemed a High-Risk Contact?
When possible, all High-Risk Close Contacts are called directly by a Communicable Disease Investigator (CDI) from Public Health, however there are times when there are large groups of contacts that need to be contacted as quickly as possible. Often, the most efficient way of contacting parents is an automated call and/or email. Most often this occurs when a case of COVID-19 has been identified in a school, daycare, or workplace. Information will be provided in the phone call and/or email about the isolation dates for your child (10 days after last exposure date) and testing information. You will be provided with additional information by email, or directed to our website for more instruction. We appreciate a phone call or email like this can be concerning however please be assured all measures are taken to distribute information as quickly as possible and stop the spread of COVID-19 as effectively as possible.
If you (or your child) is identified as a high risk contact, other members of your household must also avoid any non-essential outings or gatherings for the duration of the high-risk contact’s isolation period. This means only leaving home for essential reasons such as attending work or school or childcare, doing errands for food and medication, or attending essential medical appointments.
How is a parent supposed to isolate a young child?
We appreciate isolating a young child can can be difficult and sometimes impossible, however there are some things you can do to make the isolation time safer to others in your household. Minimize the time that child has with other members or the family, have all family members wear medical masks and ensure high touch surfaces such as (shared bathrooms, eating and cooking spaces) are cleaned after each use. If a very young child needs to be isolating, often one parent/family member chooses to act as the primary caregiver, reducing risk of exposure for others in the household. For more information, read the How to Care for a Child Who Needs to Self-Isolate fact sheet from Public Health Ontario.
If my child is a high-risk contact, can they play with other high-risk contacts from their school/bus cohort?
No. All high risk contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate from others, including others in their school or bus cohort. In certain situations, it might be difficult for a child to isolate from household members (parent, sibling).
How can I manage shared custody and co-parenting while my child self-isolates?
HPEPH recognizes that the pandemic may present unique challenges for families who co-parent or parents who have shared custody arrangements. For tips and suggestions to navigate co-parenting during the pandemic, review the attached fact sheet prepared by Toronto Public Health.
If my child is a high risk contact, and another household member develops symptoms, does the whole household need to isolate?
Household members of any symptomatic individual must isolate until a negative test result, or alternate diagnosis is received. This means that if anyone in your household develops symptoms, the whole household must isolate until the symptomatic individual gets negative test results. This is the case even when there is not an existing high risk contact in the household.
What happens if Public Health tells me I am a low-risk contact of a person with COVID- 19?
If Public Health tells you that you are a low risk contact, you do not need to self-isolate. You need to pay attention for any symptoms of COVID-19, and to get tested if you become sick.
I need to provide my employer with a sick note. Where can I get one?
If you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, you can provide this sick note to your employer.
What if there is not enough space for me to isolate at home?
When possible, you will be asked to self isolate at home. If you need to share bathrooms or kitchens with other people, you will be asked to clean shared items in these spaces. Public Health may also be able to supply you with a medical mask to help you isolate from others in your home. In unusual situations, we may be able to work with social services to help find somewhere else for you to isolate.
How much does it cost to get tested?
Getting tested for COVID-19 is free. Public Health will get in contact with you if your results are positive. However, if you are a feeling sick, or are told that you are a high-risk contact, you need to self isolate as directed, even after your negative test results.
Will I lose my job?
It is against the law for your employer to fire you or punish you for not coming to work if you are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
How can I pay my bills?
There are different options to help you pay for things you need while you are isolating. The federal government offers benefits to people who are self-isolating due to COVID-19 or if they are caregiving for someone who needs support.
What if I am in Canada and my visa is expired, or I am undocumented?
Public Health will not ask you about your immigration status. We will work with you to develop a plan to self-isolate regardless of your status. Even if you tell public health your immigration status, this information will not be shared with anyone else – including the police.
Will I get in trouble if I state I have a large number of high-risk close contacts?
No. Public Health understands there are circumstances where people do are not able to limit close contacts. We also recognize that accidents happen. Regardless of your situation, we are here to help you.
What if I need medical attention while I am sick?
If you need medical attention, you can still get medical care. Requirements for self isolation allow you to go the hospital in an emergency. It is important that you do not go to a family doctor’s office. If you are experiencing severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain or have serious concern for your health, please go the nearest emergency department and tell them if you are close contact for known positive for COVID-19.
What happens if I do not tell public health who I have been in close contact with?
We need to know who you have been in contact with to help keep you, and those you care about, safe. Telling us who you have been in contact with helps us understand if these people might be at risk of COVID-19, and helps us stop the spread of the virus. We are so grateful for the work being done by newcomers who have continued essential work through the pandemic. We appreciate all that you have done so far to keep our community safe, and we at Public Health will work hard to keep you safe.
What if I need immigration related support?
Call Quinte Immigration Services and connect with one of their settlement workers. They can work with you to review what benefits you are eligible to receive from the government. They may also be able to connect you to other immigration related resources. You can reach them at 613-968-7723.