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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 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.

Prevent the Spread

Protect your family, friends, and co-workers from COVID-19 by doing your part to prevent the spread. HPEPH recommends all residents practice five fundamental actions to reduce exposure in our community:

  1. Stay home when ill, as directed by provincial assessment tools;
  2. Always physical distance with those outside your household;
  3. Wear a mask or face covering in public spaces, as well as when physical distancing is difficult or not possible;
  4. Wash your hands often, and clean frequently touched surfaces;
  5. Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Travel to and From our Region

While there are currently no restrictions in place that prohibit travel within the province, Dr. Piotr Oglaza is asking everyone to reconsider or postpone any non-essential travel. This is especially important for travel to and from areas with high rates of COVID-19.

It is the expectation of HPEPH that these requests will be followed in good faith, and that individuals will make responsible choices that respect the health and well-being of all Ontarians. Businesses/establishments may choose to exceed the expectations of HPEPH and implement stricter restrictions. Any questions or concerns about such restrictions should be directed to the establishment where they are in effect.

We continue to ask everyone to practice recommended public health protocols, whether they are resident or a visitor. If an individual is visiting our region for essential purposes, we encourage them to take steps to reduce their close contacts during their stay. In addition:

  • Register on our Digital Guestbook so we can contact you if required for contact tracing, or to share local health information updates.
  • Come prepared with groceries, first aid, and cleaning supplies from your home community to reduce unnecessary shopping in our region.
  • If you are planning a long term stay, consider self-quarantining for 14 days prior to your trip.
  • If you are not able to self-quarantine, comply with social gathering restrictions that are in effect in your home region. For red zones, this means limiting indoor gatherings to a maximum of 5 people and 25 people outdoors. In lockdown regions, this means avoiding indoor gatherings with anyone outside your household, and limiting outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.

Legal Requirements for Self Isolation

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.

COVID-19 Resources

Signs and Posters

International Travel

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.

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

How does public health identify high risk contacts, and why don't contacts of high-risk contacts need to isolate?

  • Every case is investigated by public health and contacts are identified. All contacts are reviewed by public health staff and determined whether they are at a high risk or low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • High risk contacts are considered to be individuals who have been in close contact with the positive case during their contagious period.
    • Their contagious period is considered to be 48 hours prior to symptom onset, and up to 10 days after symptom onset.
    • High risk contacts are advised to isolate as soon as they are identified, for 14 days following their potential date of exposure. This isolation ensures they are not interacting with others during their contagious period.
  • Low risk contacts are considered to be individuals who have had very brief or distanced interaction with the positive case, which results in a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
    • Low risk contacts are required to self monitor for symptoms, and seek testing if symptoms develop. Unless symptoms develop, they can continue to attend work or school, while practicing regular public health precautions.
    • Close contacts of high risk contacts are considered to be low risk contacts, as they are not identified as being in close contact with a positive case during the positive case’s contagious period and are not required to seek testing or isolate unless symptoms develop, or if the high risk contact becomes a case.
    • When a positive case isolates as soon as symptoms develop, and all high risk contacts who interacted with them within 48 hours prior to symptom onset isolate as well, the risk of transmission beyond these individuals is very low.
    • Individuals who may have had exposure to COVID-19 are not known to transmit the virus during their incubation period, which occurs prior to their contagious period. This means that high risk contacts are very unlikely to transmit the virus to their own contacts before they have been identified as being high risk, contacted by public health, and begin isolating.
  • Public health uses an abundance of caution when identifying individuals that may have been at risk of exposure to a positive case. The public can be reassured that the investigation process always errs on the side of caution to prevent further spread of the virus.

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?

Please visit our Getting Tested for COVID-19 page for information about accessing testing through one of our local COVID-19 Assessment Centres.

Do I need to self-isolate?

  • The province released updated Testing and Clearance Guidance effective October 1, 2020.
    • Individuals with a high-risk exposure (have travelled out of the country OR have had contact with positive case) they must isolate regardless of test result for a minimum of 14 days from last exposure.
    • Individuals who are advised to seek testing who do not get tested, they are to isolate for 10 days from symptom onset, AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND they do not have a fever (without medication). All household members must isolate for 14 days from the affected individual’s symptom onset.
    • Individuals who are advised to seek testing and are waiting for test results should isolate until they receive a negative test result AND their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND they do not have a fever (without medication)
    • Individuals who have mild to moderate symptoms and receive positive test results must isolate for 10 days from symptom onset (or from testing date if asymptomatic) AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND they do not have a fever (without medication).
    • Individuals with severe illness or severe immune compromise who receive positive test results must isolate for 20 days from symptom onset AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours AND they do not have a fever (without medication).

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. 6224).
  • 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.

If you are unable to access your test results through any of the options above, and it has been at least 10 days since your test, HPEPH can help you find your results. To request assistance, please complete our COVID-19 Test Result Request Form.

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.

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. Visit the top of this page to learn more about the current status in our region. It continues to be important for residents to wear a face covering as directed, and practice 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.

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, non essential travel is discouraged. 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.

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 when directed, 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.

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

How do I report violations of COVID-19 protocols?

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:

  • Complete our online Complaint Form if your concern involves any of the following:
    • 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.

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 complete our online COVID-19 Complaint Form. 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 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.

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.