Media Release – MOH Activates Plan

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Medical Officer of Health Activates Emergency Response Plan

The local medical officer of health is echoing today’s announcement by the provincial government to declare an emergency related to COVID-19.

Due to this declaration, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health has activated the agency’s emergency response plan. This activation prompts local municipalities to set up their own emergency operation centres (EOCs) in order to move supports and resources in place for their communities.

“This is an unprecedented but warranted action for a very challenging time,” says Dr. Lynn Noseworthy. “We need to do everything we can to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our residents.”

Due to the provincial declaration, the Health Unit is enforcing the actions put forward last night by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for the province, including:

  • The closure of all facilities providing recreational programs;
  • The closure of public libraries;
  • The closure of private schools and licensed child care facilities;
  • The closure of all bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms;
  • The closure of all churches and faith settings;
  • The closure of all theatres and concert venues

“The health and wellness of our community continues to be our top priority,” says Dr. Noseworthy, “and these steps are crucial to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Residents are encouraged to help protect their health by washing their hands thoroughly and frequently, covering their coughs and sneezes, staying home if they are ill, and practising physical distancing when out in public by staying at least two metres away from others. As well, anyone returning from travel outside of Canada is required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms unless they are an essential service worker, including health care workers.

If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, visit the Ministry of Health’s website to use the self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek further care.

The Health Unit is continuing to work with its health care partners and municipal partners in this response. Residents are encouraged to visit for updated information.

Please see the March 16 media release from Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, Dr. David Williams.

COVID-19 and Schools/Daycares

Children and students will soon be returning to class and daycare this fall. The Health Unit is working to support the safe reopening of schools and licensed child care centres in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Read further for more details and resources.

On This Page

Child Care Centres

The Ontario government is allowing licensed child care centres to open/operate at full capacity as of September 1. Below are specific measures that must be in place:

  • All child care staff must wear masks at all times
  • Frequent cleaning must be done at child care centres
  • Children and staff must be screened before they can enter a childcare facility
  • Attendance records must be maintained to allow for contact tracing and coordination with local public health authorities
  • Frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene is a must for children and staff
  • Clear and rigid case management protocols must be developed should a staff member or child become ill or test positive for COVID-19.
Additional Resources


In-class instruction at Ontario schools will resume this fall, with additional protective measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Parents will also have the option of having their child learn at home. Among the Province’s plan for safely reopening schools:

  • Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a face covering indoors on school property. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear a face covering will apply. Face coverings will be available for students who need one
  • Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required to wear face covering in indoor spaces.
  • School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face coverings.
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in all school settings.
Provincial Back to School Plans

Click below for more specifics on the provincial government’s plan for the safe reopening of schools:

Local Back to School Plans

For more information about back-to-school reopening plans in your area, contact your local school board:

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I have my child tested for COVID-19 before they return to school?

Testing your child before returning to school is generally not recommended if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, unless they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What if my child shows symptoms before going to school or while at school?

As per the Ministry of Education Guide to Reopening Ontario Schools, all students and staff must self-screen every day using a checklist before arriving at school. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention.

If a student or staff member feels sick, or develops symptoms while at school, schools will follow the following protocol:

  • Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others, and the family will be contacted to arrange pick-up.
  • Staff and students with symptoms will be directed to seek medical advice including the recommendation of testing for COVID 19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider. Check out local COVID 19 Assessment Centre locations, and book an appointment for COVID- 19 testing.
  • Siblings/staff of ill individual can remain in school until further medical advice is received and should self-monitor for symptoms.  
  • Staff and/or students who receive an alternative diagnosis than COVID-19 can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours.

Can I go to work if I don’t have any symptoms but my child is ill and we are waiting on results from their COVID-19 test?

If your child is symptomatic and has been tested for COVID-19, you and your family, including siblings, should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. You can continue to go to school and/or work if you have no symptoms.

  • If while self-monitoring symptoms of COVID-19 develop, self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19 (and no longer attend work and school).
  • If any members of your household test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by Public Health directly with more detailed advice.

What if there is a positive case in my child’s school?

If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, staff from the Health Unit will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/children who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases, etc.) must follow the instructions provided by the HKPR District Health Unit on when they can return to school.

What if a parent/guardian tests positive for COVID-19?

Parents/guardians are not required to report their test results to their school, however it is recommended. Members of your household are required to self-isolate and should not attend work or school. If your child is at school, your child should be picked up immediately. Staff from the HKPR District Health Unit will be in contact with you for assessment and provide further direction.

Who will declare an outbreak at the school?

The Heath Unit will declare an outbreak after identifying two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff (or other visitors) in a school with an epidemiological link where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before/after school care).

Examples of reasonably having acquired infection in school include:

  • No obvious source of infection outside of the school setting; OR
  • Known exposure in the school setting

HKPR District Health Unit staff will work closely with the school to determine close contacts of the case and will provide direction on isolation and facilitate testing.

Resources for Parents/Caregivers

Help prepare your child for what awaits them in September. Talking to students about the enhanced COVID-19 safety measures at school this fall can help reduce anxiety and ease the transition. So can getting kids to practise COVID-19 prevention measures like handwashing or wearing a mask. Click on the following resources for more details:

Resources for Children

Check out these kid-friendly resources to help prepare for back to school:

About COVID-19

Washing Hands

Fighting Germs

Wearing Masks

Media Release – COVID-19

Monday, March 2, 2020

Local Health Partners Continue to Work Together in Preparation for Potential COVID-19 Cases

Although the risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 continues to be low in Ontario, the local Health Unit and its community health partners are continuing to work together to ensure they are prepared should a case develop locally.

Since COVID-19 was first identified in Ontario, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has been working with Northumberland Hills Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Haliburton Highlands Health Services and its primary health care partners to ensure all organizations are kept up-to-date on information and changes coming from the Ministry of Health. This includes sharing resources like the evolving case definitions, testing protocols, as well as infection prevention and control guidance and support and updated fact sheets on COVID-19. As well, the Health Unit provides support to the health care partners to ensure active screening protocols are in place and that appropriate health care staff have been fit tested for the proper protective equipment.

“There have been a number of improvements made in the way we prepare for wide-spread illnesses since we experienced SARS,” says Dr. Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Across the province we have seen improvements in communication about the illness and cases, improved laboratory testing protocols and quicker test results shared with health professionals for the stringent contact follow-up and management involving potential cases. The bottom line is that we are prepared for if, and when, we may see a case locally.”

Dr. Noseworthy says that seasonal respiratory illnesses, including influenza, are still circulating in the community. As well, it is important to remember that most people who have become ill with COVID-19 have experienced just mild symptoms and have recovered fully. The risk of serious illness appears to rise with age and the presence of other complicating factors. People who have died from the virus in other countries have tended to be older and have had multiple health issues that weakened their immune systems and put them at greater risk.

To remain healthy, the Health Unit recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm.
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill.
  • Get your flu shot to protect you from the flu.
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes if you are sick.

If you are ill and must visit a hospital emergency department, clinic or other healthcare provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen. This allows health care providers to take steps to reduce the potential spread of illness.

Be prepared to identify your travel history and/or potential contact history with COVID-19 so that paramedics and/or the health care provider are appropriately prepared to assist you.

  • Call your local health unit or health care provider if you become sick with a cough and/or fever AND have returned from an affected area in the past 14 days or have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.
  • If you have severe respiratory symptoms, call 911 and explain both your travel history and symptoms to arrange swift and safe transport.

For more information on COVID-19, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or visit After hours, people can call Telehealth Ontario for medical advice toll-free at 1-866-797-0000. People are also encouraged to continue to rely on credible sources of information about COVID-19, including daily updates at:

Guidance for Travellers

Residents are advised to monitor and follow Canadian Travel Advisories as well as alerts and advisories in the travel destination and act accordingly. Specific requirements are in place in Ontario for those with travel to some affected areas to support rapid identification and case management. For guidance on self-isolation, self-monitoring and reporting of symptoms after travel to an affected area, please consult the travel health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if you have concerns about your symptoms or have a travel history to a region where COVID-19 is occurring or if you have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case.

Additional Quotes:

“At HHHS we are continuing to work in close partnership with our local primary care providers and the Public Health Unit, and we are taking the necessary steps to ensure our staff and physicians can continue to safely meet the health needs of our patients, residents, clients, and the community.” – Carolyn Plummer, President and CEO, Haliburton, Highlands Health Services.

“The Haliburton Family Medical Centre and the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team continue to work closely with community health care partners. Protocols for screening and testing are in place to protect our patients, physicians, and all staff. “ – Kim Robinson, Executive Director, HHFHT, and Office Manager, HFMC.

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