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Testing Criteria and Availability Expanded to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/April 16, 2020 – 9:00 am

In response to the Ministry of Health’s recent expansion of COVID-19 testing criteria, and as part of continued efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in the community, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is working with health care community partners to increase the availability of assessment and testing for residents in our area. Assessment and testing are now available to more individuals who are eligible under the expanded criteria, as well as to those who are potentially experiencing mild or early signs of COVID-19.

Expanded criteria includes individuals who are experiencing:

  • A fever, a new or worsened cough, shortness of breath.
  • New or worsening symptoms of respiratory illness (sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing).

Evidence has indicated that COVID-19 may cause unusual or mild signs and symptoms, particularly in older adults and youth under age 16. These symptoms may include unexplained tiredness, delirium, falls, decreased ability to perform regular activities, worsening of chronic conditions, digestive upset, chills, headaches, decreased blood pressure, and/or rapid heart beat. Individuals with recent onset of these symptoms are also encouraged to contact HPEPH for a risk assessment.

“We have been working with our partners to increase availability of assessment and testing in our region” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “With the recent implementation of local assessment centres, broader testing criteria, and expansion of the Community Paramedicine Program in our region, we are now able to offer assessment and testing to more people.”

Anyone with new or worsened symptoms of the virus is encouraged to contact the HPEPH COVID-19 information line for referral to an assessment centre or testing by community paramedics, if appropriate. The information line can be reached at 613-966-5500, and is open weekdays, 8:30 am – 6:30 pm, and weekends, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. For more information, please review the FAQ section of the COVID-19 page at, which includes additional information about signs and symptoms of the virus, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.


Media Contacts:

Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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1) Our offices are temporarily closed to the public to allow us to respond to COVID-19 demands. However, phone lines remain open. The COVID-19 information line is operating 7 days a week (excluding statutory holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All other program lines are operating Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

2) Returning travellers must self-isolate for 14 days and contact Public Health if symptoms of COVID-19 develop.

If you have returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days and immediately contact Public Health or your local health care provider if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Earlier this month all travellers were asked to self-isolated when they returned to Canada. Effective March 25, the federal government made this isolation mandatory under the Quarantine Act to better protect our most vulnerable citizens. Each of us must make the responsible decision to follow the advice of health authorities. It’s in everyone’s best interest to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.