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This Version Posted: January 14, 2021

COVID-19 (or the novel coronavirus) is a new, but serious illness. Read these FAQs for additional information on how to stay safe. If you still have questions, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email info@hkpr.on.ca.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of Jan. 12, 2021, the Province has announced a second State of Emergency in Ontario due to rising cases of COVID-19. The Ontario government’s order means people must stay at home except for getting essentials and follow these restrictions and public health measures. For specific information and FAQs regarding the State of Emergency, click here.

Learn About COVID-19
If You Feel Sick
Protect Yourself From COVID-19
Stay Safe in Your Home
Stay Safe at Your Work
Stay Safe in Your Community
Mask Use in Commercial Establishments

How many COVID-19 cases are there locally?

Click here for the latest COVID-19 data in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through close contact. This can occur if respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks are passed on to others. The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances.  

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets that are spread when you cough or sneeze
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold, flu or other conditions.

Call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing any of the following serious symptoms:

  • Severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
  • Severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
  • Feeling confused or unsure of where you are
  • Losing consciousness

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • Chills
  • Cough that is new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
  • Barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
  • Shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
  • Lost sense of taste or smell
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Headache that’s unusual or long lasting
  • Digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
  • Muscle aches
  • Extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
  • Falling down often
  • For young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite.

In certain cases, complications from COVID-19 can include serious conditions: like pneumonia or kidney failure, and in some cases, death.

The majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and most people who get it will recover on their own.

If you start to feel unwell, you should go home and isolate. Use the Ministry of Health self-assessment tool to help determine if you need to seek further care or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020. 

When it comes to COVID-19, what does ‘asymptomatic’ mean? And does it matter? 

Asymptomatic is a term to describe people who may have been exposed to, or have, COVID-19, but do not have any symptoms. 

Most often, COVID-19 is spread by people with symptoms. However, the virus can also be spread by individuals who have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. Because they do not show any obvious signs of the virus, these individuals may be unaware they have COVID-19 and can infect others without knowing it.  

To prevent COVID-19, be sure to practise physical distancingregularly wash hands with soap and water, follow respiratory etiquette, and do proper cleaning and disinfecting of common surfaces

If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or you begin to feel unwell, isolate immediately and use Ontario’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what additional care you need. 

What is the risk of getting sick and who is most vulnerable?

COVID-19 is a serious health threat. Given the surge in the number of cases locally and in Canada, the risk is high and it’s essential to take steps to slow the spread. You can be exposed to COVID-19 anywhere and in any place. During the province-wide COVID-19 shutdown, you are strongly urged to stay home, only going out for essentials like groceries and medical matters.

Generally anyone can be at risk of COVID-19, but in particular, older adults and people with compromised immune systems seem to be more vulnerable to the virus. They should take additional precautions.

Will the flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

No, the viruses are very different and distinct. The annual flu shot will not provide any protection against COVID-19 (though it is highly recommended to get an annual flu shot to prevent influenza, a serious infectious disease in its own right).

How long does the COVID-19 virus live on surfaces?

According to the World Health Organization, it’s uncertain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest coronaviruses can live on surfaces from a few hours up to several days. Often, it’s based on conditions like type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.

Current evidence shows the main way COVID-19 spreads is through person-to-person direct contact.

If you think a surface may be infected with the COVID-19 virus, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Due to COVID-19, is it safe to eat unpackaged fruit and vegetables? If so, how do I safely wash and eat these foods?

The rules for washing unpackaged fruit and vegetables are the same, even with COVID-19. That means, washing hands with soap and water before handling any food, then thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables under cold running water. To be extra careful, consider washing your hands with soap and water after you handle/wash unpackaged fruit and vegetables too.

What should I do if I get sick, or think I have symptoms of COVID-19, or been in contact with someone who does?

Anyone who begins to feel unwell with COVID-19 symptoms MUST go home and isolate immediately.  You should also use the Ministry of Health self-assessment tool to determine what further care you may need.

How do I isolate?

Read Response Here.

I have been in contact with someone (friend, relative, co-worker etc.) who was in contact with a COVID-19 case, but I have not had any direct contact with the positive case myself. Am I at risk of getting COVID-19? Should I self-isolate or get tested for the virus?

COVID-19 is mainly spread by direct person-to-person contact.  If you have not had direct or close contact with the person who tested positive for COVID -19, you do not need to isolate, but it is important to always monitor yourself for symptoms.  If you detect any symptoms, immediately isolate and call the Health Unit for further direction at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

If you had direct or close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, you should immediately isolate (or quarantine) and follow further directions from public health staff including whether to get tested for COVID-19.

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Can I access COVID-19 assessment centres? Where are they located in the area?

Read Response Here.

What can I do if I’ve completed my period of isolation without showing symptoms?

Read Response Here.

I’ve been tested for COVID-19, so where can I get results?

You can go online to the Ontario government website to quickly access your test results. You’ll need to provide your health card number, name, date of birth and postal code to confirm your identity. If you’re experiencing problems with the online portal or do not have Internet access, contact the Assessment Centre where you got tested for further direction.

How can I protect myself?

Follow these steps to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures have extra meaning given the surge in COVID-19 cases locally and across Ontario (and the resulting provincial State of Emergency): 

  • Everyone should stay home unless there is an essential reason to go out. Going out for reasonable exercise is allowed.
  • Limit trips outside your home to only getting essentials such as food and medication, going out for medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members.
  • If going out, continue to follow important public health measures such as staying 2 metres apart from others and wearing masks/face coverings (ensure face coverings are tightly fitted to cover the nose, mouth and chin; scarves and bandanas are insufficient)
  • No indoor gatherings are allowed, except with members of your own household (people you live with)
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands.
  • 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. 
  • Practise physical distancing by avoiding close contact with others outside your household. This means keeping a minimum distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others. 
  • When going out in the community, keep COVID-19 precautions in mind at all times.
  • Avoid any travel within or outside Ontario.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering inside public places, as directed by the Health Unit. The Ontario government is also mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.
  • NEW: Wearing a mask or face covering is now also recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill. This is essential to prevent the spread of illness. This poster can give you additional information on how to help your family stay healthy.
  • If you are an older adult or someone with a compromised immune system, you may be more susceptible to COVID-19. Take extra precautions to protect yourself from the virus.
  • If you are ill and must visit a hospital emergency department, clinic or 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. 
  • If visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes, check first with the facility to see what guidelines are in place. Be sure to follow instructions as directed.
  • Do not gather with anyone outside your immediate household. Large gatherings of people can spread COVID-19, so they are not currently allowed.
  • Watch these video resources on how your organization/workplace can prepare for COVID-19. These print resources may also be useful.
  • Be prepared by planning ahead, but do so within reason and recognizing that everyone is in this together.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when one is available in your community.

Is there a vaccine available for COVID-19?

Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada, saying they meet its strict safety and quality requirements. Click here for more details on COVID-19 vaccines, including when doses may be available in this area.

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What if I have just returned to Canada after travelling outside the country?

Read Response Here.

What is the best way to wash my hands?

Washing your hands properly and regularly can remove the germs that make us sick. We need to wash our hands many times through the day: before eating meals/snacks, before and after preparing food, after going to the washroom, after touching an animal, and after handling garbage. Wash your hands with clean, running water and soap. If soap and water is not available, or our hands aren’t visibly dirty, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What is physical distancing?

Read Response Here. 

Should I wear a non-medical mask or face covering?

Masks or face coverings must now be worn inside all public places in Ontario, including businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions for settings like corrections and developmental services.

Face coverings will not protect you from getting COVID-19. However when worn properly, non-medical masks can help to cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or landing on common surfaces.

When wearing a cloth mask/face covering, follow this Public Health Ontario fact sheet on how to properly wear and throw away masks. You can also watch this Health Unit video for further guidance on properly using/wearing cloth masks.

Be sure to save medical masks (like surgical and N-95 varieties) for health care providers and those providing direct care to someone with COVID-19.

Should I wear rubber gloves outdoors to reduce my risk of COVID-19?

Wearing rubber gloves out in public does NOT reduce your risk of COVID-19. Regular handwashing with soap/water and not touching your face offer more protection. Even if you wear gloves, you can still pick up COVID-19 if you touch your face with the dirty gloves, and this could then spread the contamination and infect you.

The fact is people don’t need to wear gloves unless they are providing direct care to someone infected with COVID-19.

How should I throw out disposable gloves, given the current COVID-19 situation?

Safely disposing of used gloves anytime is important to reduce the risk of illness, so casually tossing them aside when you’re done with them is not advised. When removing the gloves, it’s essential to avoid contamination of your hands and arms and clothing (etc.). Public Health Ontario offers a five-step process for safely taking off gloves  and encourages you to properly wash your hands afterwards.

Used gloves should be disposed of in a proper garbage can for safe disposal. Never stuff used gloves into your pocket or purse. Gloves should NEVER be re-used.

How can I cope with fears of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is affecting people in many ways. Taking care of yourself – and your mental health – is even more important now, so click here for resources.

Should I use public transit given the current COVID-19 situation?

During the province-wide State of Emergency, you must stay home and only go out for essentials like groceries or medical matters. If you are sick, do not ride public transit. Instead isolate at home, do not go out, and use the Ontario government’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see what further care you may need.

If you need to out and are using public transit to get to your destination, consider these tips:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using any kind of public transportation.
  • Practise physical distancing. Aim to ride transit during off-peak hours to avoid crowds; avoid close contact with other passengers; and maintain a 2-metre distance apart.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering.
  • If you use a taxi or rideshare service, sit in the back and open a window for air circulation.

Please remember that public transit agencies have implemented enhanced cleaning measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Is it safe to open mail and other packages?

There is no known risk of COVID-19 entering Canada on parcels or packages coming from other parts of the world.

What if I’m attending, or my group is organizing, an event/meeting with a large gathering of people?

Read Response Here. 

What is physical distancing at work?

Read Response Here.

What are my rights as a worker during COVID-19?

Read Response Here.

What supports/resources are available to help workplaces fight COVID-19?

Watch these video resources on how your organization/workplace can prepare for COVID-19. These print resources may also be useful.

What are the different COVID-19 colour restriction zones, and in which level is this area?

During the Province-wide State of Emergency and shutdown, Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework is on pause. The Framework places different parts of the province into assigned categories for COVID-19 restrictions. These public health measures can be adjusted, tightened or loosened based on local COVID-19 trends and case counts. The HKPR District Health Unit region (including Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes) had been in the Yellow-Protect zone, but those measures are superseded by the stronger shutdown restrictions.

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