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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
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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 the 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, please contact our COVID-19 information line by dialing 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803. The COVID-19 information line operates Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

If you are a Health care provider/health worker, please visit our COVID-19 Health Care Resources page.

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. 

HPEPH recommends all residents to practice five key actions to reduce exposure and help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. These fundamental five include:

  1. Stay home when ill;
  2. Ensure physical distancing of 2 metres is taking place;
  3. Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
  4. Practise hand hygiene and environmental cleaning;
  5. Screen and test anyone who is concerned about potential transmission.

Class Order

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health, has issued a Class Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. This order enables Hastings Prince Edward Public Health to enforce self-isolation requirements for all individuals who have been advised to do so. Please review our Class Order fact sheet for more information.

HPEPH requests that anyone visiting our region register on our Digital Guestbook, which is private, confidential, and requires only basic information.

HPEPH Guidance Documents

COVID-19 Resources

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Precautions for Travellers

If you have returned from travel anywhere outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days. 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 contact their local COVID-19 Assessment Centre to get tested. If you require medical attention contact your health care provider, TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or for a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately. Individuals who are concerned about accessing an assessment centre or who have questions about COVID-19 are encouraged to call the HPEPH COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 / 1-800-267-2803 for further direction and guidance.

Travel Within Canada

There are currently no self-quarantine requirements in place for Canadians travelling to Ontario from other parts of the province or country. All visitors and residents are asked to be thoughtful while visiting our community, and are reminded to continue the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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

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.

Individuals with at least one symptom of COVID-19 and/or believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact a local assessment centre directly to book an appointment for testing.

Residents of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties are requested not to go to an assessment centre without an appointment. Please call ahead and pre-register for one of the COVID-19 Assessment Centres (Belleville, Trenton, Picton, Bancroft) whenever possible (note: pre-registration is mandatory for Picton). Once you pre-register through the COVID-19 hotline, or use the online pre-registration form (for Belleville and Trenton only), you will be provided with instructions and directions for attending a local assessment centre.

The hotline is available 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week. The online registration form for Belleville and Trenton may be filled out any time of day but you will not receive confirmation/directions before 9am or after 5pm.

  • Assessment centres in Belleville and Trenton operate from 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week.
  • The Bancroft assessment centre operates from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday.
  • The Picton assessment centre operates from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday by appointment only.

Hotline Info:

  • Bancroft – 613-332-2825 ext. 6222
  • Belleville and Trenton – 613-961-5544 (you can still call if you prefer not to use the online form).
  • Picton (by appointment only) 613-813-6864  

For weekend testing,  call the Belleville/Trenton Hotline.

Please be aware that, due to high volumes, wait times at the assessment centres can be an hour or more, and test results can take anywhere from 2-5 days.

We appreciate your patience.

If you require medical attention contact your health care provider, TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or for a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Individuals who are concerned about accessing an assessment centre or who have questions about COVID-19 are encouraged to call the HPEPH COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 / 1-800-267-2803.

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

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

If you are unable to access the online portal please call the COVID-19 Assessment Center where you got tested to get your results.

  • For Bancroft, Belleville, or Trenton assessment centres, call 613-961-5544 (in the Bancroft area, call 613-969-7400 ext. 6222).
  • For the Picton assessment centre, call or text (text preferred) 613-813-6864.

If your test was conducted at the Bancroft, Belleville, or Trenton assessment centres, you can also request an email copy of your test results through the Quinte Health Care website portal.

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

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 from Health Canada.

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.

Effective July 17, face coverings are required in all enclosed indoor public spaces. For more information about this requirement, review our media release and our FAQ on mandatory face coverings. In addition, wearing a homemade non-medical mask/face covering in the community is strongly recommended in all other public situations when it is not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings. A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or land on surfaces.

When wearing a face covering, ensure you are using it appropriately:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (practise good hand hygiene while you are wearing the face covering)
  • Make sure the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth
  • Avoid touching the covering while using it
  • Do not share it with others
  • Change the face covering when it gets wet or dirty

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 the infographic about How to Wear a Mask Safely or visit Ontario.ca.

How do I make a cloth non-medical mask/face covering?

Health Canada has provided instructions on how to make cloth non-medical mask/face covering with sew or no-sew options.

What is the risk in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties?

As we continue to see lab-confirmed cases reported in communities across the province, there continues to be risk throughout Ontario. The risk of local exposure to COVID-19 has also increased with an expectation of increased travel during Stage 3 of re-opening. For this reason, it is more important than ever for residents to wear a face covering while in commercial settings, and practise physical distancing. This means  following provincial gathering limits, avoiding physical contact, and staying a safe distance of 2 metres 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.

I am visiting Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. What can I do to protect myself and others?

All visitors and residents are asked to be thoughtful while visiting our community, and are reminded to continue the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These precautions include washing your hands frequently, limiting your contacts, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres with individuals outside of your household, using a cloth face covering in commercial establishments and when physical distancing is not possible, and staying home if you are ill. We also encourage you to bring groceries, first aid, and cleaning supplies from your home region, to minimize your shopping needs during your stay.

HPEPH is requesting that anyone visiting the region register on our Digital Guestbook, which is private, confidential, and requires only basic information such as an individual’s name, contact details, and nature of their visit. This will help us contact you if any positive cases of COVID-19 are identified in a location you have visited. It will also allow us to connect you with the most current local information about the virus.

Can I visit friends or family members who live out of our area? Can they visit me?

While there are currently no restrictions in place that prohibit travel within the province, HPEPH continues to recommend that everyone limit their number of close contacts, regardless of where they reside. Restrictions on social gatherings continue to be in effect, as outlined in provincial orders. For those who choose to gather, we encourage everyone to reduce the risk of transmission by taking infection control precautions, as outlined above, and avoiding any unnecessary travel or contacts if you are ill.

What is a social circle? How do they differ from social gatherings?

Social circles allow members to share close contact with others in their circle. This could include hugging, carpooling, enjoying a patio and sharing a meal without staying two metres apart. Ontarians should avoid close-contact activities with anyone outside of their circle if they are unable to maintain physical distancing. Ontarians who wish to form a safe social circle should follow these five simple steps:

  1. Start with your current circle, that is, the people you live with or who regularly come into your household.
  2. If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including those from another household, family members or friends.
  3. Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle.
  4. Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle.
  5. Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.

The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help you develop a social circle.

The rules for social circles are different from restrictions related to social gatherings. At this time in our region, social gatherings can include up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors from outside your household or social circle, but physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained at all times.

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

HPEPH recommends five key actions you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19. These fundamental five include:

  1. Stay home when ill;
  2. Ensure physical distancing of 2 metres is taking place;
  3. Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
  4. Practise hand hygiene and environmental cleaning;
  5. Screen and test anyone who is concerned about potential transmission

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 confirmed cases or 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 are encouraged to contact your local COVID-19 Assessment Centre to get tested. Individuals who are concerned about accessing an assessment centre or who have questions about COVID-19 are encouraged to call the HPEPH COVID-19 information line at 613-966-5500 / 1-800-267-2803. 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.

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.

How can I keep my workplace safe?

Your role as an employer is to help manage the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Visit our Healthy Workplaces web page for more information.

How do I report workplaces that do not have appropriate protocols in place?

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government requires that appropriate precautions be in place for any operating workplace.

Public Complaints & Concerns

If you have concerns that a business or service does not have appropriate protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, 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 and campgrounds
    • 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 closures or restrictions can call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

What can community members do to support and protect one another as we move into Stage 3?

We continue to encourage all local residents, employers, and employees to respect requirements for physical distancing, hand hygiene, face coverings and medical exemptions from face coverings.

All public health interventions such as gathering limits, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and use of face coverings will continue to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. As many businesses and services resume operations, more people are out and about in the community. Together with community and health care partners, all residents must continue to be vigilant to prevent and act quickly when those cases present.

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.

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.

How can I ensure my child gets the vaccinations that are usually provided in school?

HPEPH is providing priority immunizations by appointment at this time.  In addition, vaccines are still available through health care providers. Until regular vaccination clinics resume, parents can contact their health care provider to arrange vaccination updates for their children, or contact HPEPH to discuss immunizations by appointment. Call 613-966-5500 for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Do employers have any additional responsibilities in Stage 3?

Enhanced Record Keeping:

Owners/operators of bars, restaurants and boat tours are required to keep a record of patrons for 30 days. Other indoor premises such as theatres, personal service settings, and places of worship, are encouraged to keep a record of patrons. These records are solely intended to support the contact tracing efforts of public health in the event of a positive case in the community.

Seating Requirements:

All patrons of bars and restaurants are required to be seated at all times, with limited exceptions.

Washrooms, Changerooms and Common Areas:

Stage 3 regulations indicate that any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers or similar amenities made available to the public should be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as is necessary to maintain a sanitary condition.

Fitting rooms in a business are permitted to open, as long as individuals are not occupying adjacent fitting rooms at the same time.

Hand Hygiene:

In Stage 3, hand hygiene remains essential to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Employers are reminded to ensure appropriate hand washing supplies (soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) are available to both employees and patrons.

Mandatory Face Coverings:

As outlined above, as part of Stage 3, instruction from the Acting Medical Officer of Health regarding mandatory face coverings has expand to all indoor establishments that are open to the public.

HPEPH continues to encourage and promote respect for everyone in our communities as we enter Stage 3. Employers are asked to support employees by providing appropriate training, supplies, and accommodation when appropriate. Employers are also asked to lead by example and continue to implement appropriate procedures to encourage physical distancing, hand hygiene, infection control, and mandatory face coverings (in enclosed public spaces).

Is singing in indoor enclosed public spaces permitted as part of Phase 3? Is group singing permitted if all participants wear masks?

Where singing is a required component of an event or activity (e.g. faith-based organizations, performances), face coverings may be removed for the purposes of singing by performers/speakers, however sufficient distance (at least 4 meters) or an impermeable barrier (glass or plexiglass) must be in place between the singer and other event participants.

As face coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing, it is not permitted for audience members to participate in loud or group singing, even if wearing face coverings.

Every performer, attendee, and other individual on the premises must wear a face covering and maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person, except, if it is necessary for the performers to be closer to each other for the purposes of the performance or rehearsal. During periods of rest in between performances, face coverings should be used.

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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We are working to respond to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.

Please continue to visit our website for more information about our programs and services.