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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
Coronavirus in lung

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

IMPORTANT – If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately. If you are looking for additional information or have questions about COVID-19, please review this website thoroughly before contacting Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH).

If you are not able to find answers to your questions on our website, or through the Ontario Ministry of Health’s self-assessment tool, please contact our COVID-19 information line by dialing 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803. The COVID-19 information line is operating 7 days a week (excluding statutory holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Cases of COVID-19 in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties

To access information about COVID-19 cases and testing in the region, please review the HPEPH COVID-19 Dashboard.

Facility Outbreaks

The Ministry of Health has declared that even a single case of COVID-19 in a long-term care or retirement home is considered an outbreak. For information about current outbreaks of COVID-19 and other respiratory illness outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes throughout Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, review our Facility Outbreaks notice. Note: COVID-19 will be specifically identified in the outbreak notice if confirmed at a facility.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Simply put, this means a disease that has spread across an entire country or the world, usually affecting a number of people. HPEPH is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health to monitor the situation and protect our community. 

At this time all residents are advised to practise physical distancing, to reduce exposure and help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

We’ve created a chart to help illustrate the difference between self-quarantine, self-isolation and physical distancing.

If you are a health care provider or health worker, please go to our COVID-19 Health Care Resources page.

If you are an employer or an employee with questions about COVID-19 safety in the workplace, please go to our Healthy Workplaces page.

HPEPH Guidance Documents

Resources

Precautions for Travellers

If you have returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days and immediately contact HPEPH or your primary care provider if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. On March 25, the federal government made self-isolation mandatory for travellers returning to Canada. This requirement has been made 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. 

If symptoms of COVID-19 develop while in self-isolation, individuals are strongly advised to call HPEPH, at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-257-2803, for further direction and guidance.

For more general information about COVID-19 please review our Frequently Asked Questions below, or visit the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 page and the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 page and COVID-19 preparation page.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and how does it spread?

Many signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other upper and lower respiratory infections. They can range from mild cold symptoms to more severe illness, and may include:

  • Fever
  • New or worsening symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g. sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing)
  • Digestive symptoms, including nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Recent loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Recent onset of pneumonia symptoms (e.g. shallow breathing, chest pain, productive cough)

Atypical (unusual) presentations of COVID-19 should be considered, particularly in persons over 60 years of age, those 16 years and under, and individuals with developmental disabilities. Atypical signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

  • Unexplained fatigue/malaise (tiredness)
  • Delirium (altered mental status and inattention)
  • Falls
  • Decreased ability to perform activities of daily living (functional decline)
  • Worsening of chronic conditions
  • Chills
  • Croup (barking cough)
  • Unexplained tachycardia (fast resting heart rate)
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Unexplained hypoxia (insufficient oxygen)
  • Lethargy, difficulty feeding in infants (if no other diagnosis)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • multisystem inflammatory vasculitis in children

There has been evidence of transmission through close contact between humans, most likely from secretions or droplets in the air or on surfaces due to coughing and sneezing. At this time, it appears that the virus is most often being spread through close contact with another infected person who is showing symptoms. While experts believe that spread from a person who is asymptomatic (not showing symptoms) is possible, this is considered to be rare.

Prompt identification, monitoring of symptoms and appropriate management of symptoms is the only treatment for the virus at this time.

What is the risk in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties?

As we continue to see an increase in lab-confirmed cases reported in communities across the province, the overall risk in Ontario has increased. The risk of local exposure to COVID-19 has also increased with recent confirmed reports of community transmission. For this reason, it is more important than ever for residents to practise physical distancing. This means avoiding physical contact and staying a safe distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) away from other people.

How many cases are there in our region?

To access information about COVID-19 cases and testing in the region, please visit HPEPH COVID-19 Dashboard page.

For the most up to date status of cases in Ontario, visit the Ministry of Health’s web page.

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

In Hastings and Prince Edward Counties there are a number of ways to be assessed for COVID-19. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should seek clinical assessment over the phone first, except in cases of medical emergencies.

Assessment centres are operating in Bancroft, Belleville, Picton, and Trenton. Individuals can self-refer to assessment centres in Bancroft, Belleville, or Trenton by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 613-961-5544 (to avoid long distance charges in the Bancroft area, call 613-332-2825 ext. 2222). This line is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekdays.

Individuals may seek assessment through the Picton COVID-19 Assessment Centre by calling 613-813-6864 or texting their name and phone number (texting is preferred). This line is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, 7 days per week.

If individuals are unsure if testing is required, or are concerned about accessing an assessment centre, they are encouraged to contact HPEPH at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, or TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000.

I have been tested for COVID-19, how do I access my results?

Test results are available online at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/.

What is an antibody test and where can I get tested?

An antibody test is designed to detect if certain antibodies, specific to COVID-19 in this case, are present. When someone becomes infected with COVID-19, the body produces specific antibodies to fight the infection. Antibody tests look for evidence of an immune response to the virus in the blood.

Following a scientific review in May, Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 antibody test for use in Canada. Canadian laboratories will use the test to detect antibodies specific to COVID-19. Under the leadership of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, at least one million Canadian blood samples will be collected and tested over the next two years to track the virus in the general population and in specific groups at greater risk of having been infected, including health care workers and the elderly.

At this time, the timeline and availability of the new tests are not known. We expect that more information will become available over the coming weeks from Health Canada.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

At this time, it’s not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when the weather becomes warmer. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but it is still possible to become sick with these viruses during other months.

There’s much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19; investigations are ongoing.

Why aren’t you sharing the exact location of lab-confirmed positive cases?

HPEPH operates under strict guidelines that prohibit us from sharing any information that could reveal the identity of an individual. In order to protect individuals’ privacy, we are not publicly posting specific geographical location of either lab-confirmed or probable positive cases within our region. However, residents can be reassured that any identified close contacts are being advised to self isolate – minimizing risk to the community.

Our recommendation to protect yourself and others remain the same regardless of whether a probable or lab-confirmed case is your neighbour or someone 100 kilometres away. Stay home, only go out for essential reasons, and practise physical distancing while in public.

How can I protect myself, my family, and our community?

The best way to protect yourself and those around you is to stay home, physically distance yourself from others, and use regular infection control practises.

  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Only leave home for reasons that are absolutely essential
  • Avoid shaking hands with others, use other forms of acknowledgement
  • Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm, not into your hand
  • If you use a tissue, throw it away immediately and wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes with your hands
  • Clean objects/surfaces that a lot of people touch (door handles, phones, light switches, desks), and wash your hands after touching these surfaces
  • Don’t share items such as cutlery or water bottles with others – even immediate family
  • Get your influenza vaccine to help avoid getting the flu
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid contact with other people until your symptoms are gone
  • If you suspect you are sick, avoid visiting people in long-term care, or individuals with health concerns
  • Check in with neighbours, the elderly, or others with health conditions who may need assistance getting groceries or other essentials
  • If possible, use technology to stay in contact with your friends and family

I have a medical condition. Should I be self-isolating?

Individuals with existing medical conditions may be at an increased risk of complications if they develop COVID-19. While you are not required to self-isolate if you have an existing medical condition, we recommend you discuss your risk with your primary care provider. By practising physical distancing, minimizing contact with others, you can lower your risk of exposure to the virus.

Who is legally required to stay home?

  • All individuals returning from ANY travel outside of Canada MUST self-isolate for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19
  • In addition, individuals who are close contacts of lab-confirmed positive, or probable cases of COVID-19 must also self-isolate
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 while you are self-isolating, you should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either by calling HPEPH (613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803), your primary care provider’s office, or TeleHealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000)
    • If you need additional assessment, you will be directed to in-person care options
  • If you are in medical distress and need urgent care, call 911 and let them know what you are self-isolating because of COVID-19
  • If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and have recently travelled or been in contact with a case of COVID-19, it is important to avoid public transportation and to immediately inform medical staff of your travel history

For more information about self-isolation and self-monitoring, review the Public Health Ontario COVID-19 fact sheets.

I have a concern about individuals in the community ignoring isolation or quarantine directions. What should I do?

If you have concerns about individuals in the community ignoring isolation or quarantine directions, please call our COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803. Public Health Inspectors will be notified and will refer to the police, where appropriate.

I am required to self-isolate. Can I go for a drive, walk my dog, or check my mail?

If you are required to self-isolate, you may not leave your property during your self-isolation period. Please consider asking a friend/family member for help, using online shopping, or a food delivery service to get your groceries/essentials delivered to you.  Information shared in our recent Facebook post about local businesses offering delivery services may also be helpful.

Is carpooling permitted while physical distancing?

Physical distancing means keeping a minimum of two metres between yourself and other individuals who reside outside of your household. As you are not usually able to keep two metres between yourself and other individuals while in the same vehicle, carpooling is not recommended.

Do I need to wear a mask in public?

The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.

Wearing a homemade non-medical mask/facial covering in the community is recommended for periods of time when it is not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings, such as stores, shopping areas and public transportation. A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or land on surfaces. Certain locations, businesses, workplaces or occupations may have specific requirements for wearing a mask. There is currently no general requirement for individuals who are well to wear a mask in public.

As there is an international shortage of personal protective equipment, medical masks must be prioritized for front-line health care providers who are in close contact with patients. Health care providers have been given appropriate instructions about when and how to wear masks when they are in contact with patients.

If you choose to use a face covering, ensure you are using it appropriately. Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape.

It is important to remember that while non-medical masks may help protect others around you, they have not been proven to protect the individual wearing it. Wearing a non-medical mask does not replace the need for physical distancing. When in public  maintain 2 metres of distance, and wash your hands frequently.

For more information about how to wear a mask properly, check out HPEPH infographics about How to Wear a Mask Safely, and the Pros and Cons of Wearing a Cloth Mask or visit Ontario.ca.

Do I need to take extra precautions when handling groceries?

We understand that you may be concerned about the potential contamination of groceries. However, the risk of COVID-19 transmission from groceries is extremely low. We suggest putting your groceries away as usual, while avoiding touching your face. When all the groceries are unpacked, wash your hands immediately and thoroughly.

If you would like extra assurance, you can remove and dispose of external packaging, and wipe the surfaces of your groceries with antimicrobial wipes or a cloth immersed in a 1:10 mixture of bleach and water. While household cleaners have proven effective at killing the COVID-19 virus, vinegar is not an adequate disinfectant.

We also suggest using hand sanitizer upon entry at a grocery store, sanitizing the handles of the grocery cart, using a touch-free payment method (if possible), and washing your hands immediately when you return home.

How long can COVID-19 survive on objects and surfaces?

While studies are underway to learn more about the transmission of COVID-19, current evidence circulated by Public Health Ontario suggests the virus can survive up to 7 days on certain surfaces. While the virus cannot survive when brought to very high cooking temperatures, it can survive in refrigerated environments. To protect yourself and those around you, be sure to regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before touching your face or consuming food. When preparing and consuming food, be sure to practice proper food safety and handling techniques.

Where can I donate personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Belleville General Hospital is now accepting donations for all of Quinte Health Care.

All PPE donations (even if packaging has been opened) are being accepted as our local hospital supplies are limited.

Drop off instructions: Donations can be dropped off at the Sills 2 Main Entrance between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. For enquiries, please contact the hospital at 613-438-4394 or covidwarehousecoordinator@qhc.on.ca .

How can I keep my workplace safe?

Your role as an employer is to help manage the spread of COVID-19 in our community. HPEPH has created an Employer Package to support you.

How do I report non-essential workplaces that are still operating?

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government has ordered the immediate, but temporary closure of all non-essential workplaces. A full list of essential workplaces permitted to stay open is available here.

Public Complaints & Concerns

If you have concerns that a business or service is still open when it should not be, you can do one of the following:

  • Call HPEPH if your complaint involves any of the following businesses/services:
    • Child care facilities
    • Recreational camps
    • Personal services settings (including mobile and home-based settings)
    • Tanning salons
    • Facilities providing indoor recreational programs including indoor public pools and whirlpools
    • Food premises, including restaurants
    • Theatres and cinemas (including drive-ins)
    • Trailer parks
    • Schools (public and private)
    • Long-term care homes
    • Pharmacies
  • For any other type of establishment, report your concerns to your local municipality and/or local police service using the non-emergency number.  Do not call 911!  
    • Belleville Police – Non-emergency: 613-966-0882
    • OPP – Non-emergency: 1-888-310-1122
      (North Hastings, Central Hastings, Prince Edward County and Quinte West)

Business Questions

Companies and workplaces with questions about this closure order can call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

How do I report an essential business with questionable practises?

Physical Distancing and Infection Control

If you believe that an essential business is not following physical distancing and infection control protocols, call our COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803.

Price Gouging

Report an individual who is price gouging related to COVID-19 by filing a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, or by filing a report online.

What should I do to prepare myself and my family?

HPEPH is recommending that all residents take these essential steps to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak in the community:

Ensure you have supplies

  • Ensure you have enough supplies and essentials to stay in your home for up to 2 weeks

Make a contingency plan

  • Make plans to ensure care for your dependants in the event you become ill or are asked to self-isolate

Know the risks

Practise good infection control procedures

For more information and detailed recommendations, please visit the HPEPH Outbreak Preparedness web page.

Is my pet at risk for COVID-19?

Our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve, including how the virus can affect pets and animals. However, a number of animals have tested positive, including cats, dogs and tigers. It is suspected that most cases of COVID-19 in pets were transmitted to the animals by humans. There is no evidence that pets can pass the virus on to humans. However, it is best to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and your pets. If your pet appears to be ill with symptoms of COVID-19, keep them on your property and do your best to isolate them from other animals or humans for 14 days.

What is HPEPH doing to respond to COVID-19?

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario to monitor the situation, and we are working proactively to address cases of COVID-19 in our region. We are supporting our partners at Ontario Health to increase access to testing, and conducting ongoing local surveillance to ensure any suspected cases are promptly identified and managed appropriately. We are working with local organizations to strengthen regular infection control processes, and we have systems and protocols in place to be implemented in response to outbreak situations, as required.

What is HPEPH doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes?

We are supporting the province in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. This includes enhanced testing measures for workers and residents, when appropriate, to identify cases of COVID-19 as soon as possible.

We are continuously working with our partners in the LTC sector to support their infection prevention measures, and implement outbreak management protocols if required. When any long-term care home is declared as being in outbreak for COVID-19, we support a step-wise response to testing, to ensure most efficient use of local resources.

Where can I find information on COVID-19 government support programs that can help with issues such as employment, social assistance, and housing?

HPEPH is not involved in financial or other support programs being implemented by the federal and provincial governments. Our role focuses on supporting infection prevention and control measures in the community. However, the local Community Advocacy and Legal Centre has compiled a list of resources that may help you find the information you are looking for.

I am a health care provider and have questions about a potential case. Who should I contact?

Health care providers are required to immediately report all persons under investigation, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 to HPEPH at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803.

General questions about the virus, or any communicable disease, can also be directed to the HPEPH Communicable Disease Intake Line at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349. For additional, detailed information, health care providers are also encouraged to visit the Ministry of Health’s page for health care workers.

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Alerts:

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.