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This Version Posted: June 14, 2021

Access fact sheets, videos and other resources to stay safe and protect yourself and others from COVID-19. You can also read a list of Frequently Asked Questions below.. If you need further help, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, or email info@hkpr.on.ca.

  • NOTE: As of 12:01 am on Friday (June 11), Ontario will move into Step One of its reopening plan. This means more businesses and services can reopen. Click here for full details.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe. Click here for a full list of symptoms.

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

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.

What is the risk of getting sick from COVID-19, 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.

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

Stay home if you are sick, even if you think the symptoms are caused by allergies. You should use the Ministry of Health self-assessment tool to determine what further care you may need, including getting a COVID-19 test and isolating at home.

Where can I go to be tested for COVID-19?

Click here for information on COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centres in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

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 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.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

It’s important to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by following important public health prevention measures. These include: limiting close contact with others, staying home if sick, washing hands often with soap and water, wearing a mask, practising physical distancing, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting. When you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you should make arrangements to get a vaccine.

What is double masking? Is it now recommended given the new, more contagious COVID-19 variants of concern circulating in Ontario?

Double-masking means wearing one face mask on top of another. An example is wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

In early February 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. This has resulted in new CDC guidelines for Americans on improving mask fit, which includes adding layers of material to a mask (either by using cloth masks with multiple layers of fabric, or by wearing a disposable mask under a cloth mask).

This change comes as new, more contagious COVID-19 variants are circulating. So far, the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed its recommendations on mask use in Canada. In November 2020, PHAC did update its recommendations to say non-medical masks should be made of at least three layers, with the middle layer being a filter-type fabric.

Currently in Ontario, you must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your nose, mouth and chin inside any business or public place. Properly wearing a mask inside public spaces and maintaining 2 metres physical distance from others are important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but can help protect others.

While there is no instruction to ‘double mask’ in Canada, consider doing so if it makes you feel more comfortable (taking care to ensure it does not make breathing difficult). Add an extra layer to your cloth mask or try wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask.

The best advice to prevent COVID-19 remains staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with other people you do not live with.

Should I wear rubber gloves 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 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.

When will I be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine? And do the current approved vaccines protect against coronavirus variants?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and strongly recommended for everyone when they become available. Anyone age 12 years and older in Ontario is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Click on the links below for more information:

Currently, health officials anticipate that the approved COVID-19 vaccines do work against the new variants, providing some degree of protection.

What are these new variants of coronavirus?

New variants of the COVID-19 virus have been identified in Ontario and now represent the majority of recently reported cases across the country. These variants pose new threats, as they can be more easily spread, cause more severe illness and increase the risk of reinfection. The variants include:

  • B.1.1.7 (501Y.V1) – variant first identified in the United Kingdom in late November 2020. It is also known as the Alpha variant.
  • B.1.351 – variant first identified in South Africa at the end of December 2020. It is also known as the Beta variant.
  • P.1 – variant first detected in travelers from Brazil who arrived in Japan in January 2021. It is identified as the Gamma variant.
  • B.1.617 first identified in India earlier this year. It is also known as the Delta variant.

While the Alpha variant has accounted for most of the COVID-19 cases in Ontario in recent months, the Delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain of coronavirus circulating in the province by summer.

How concerned should we be about the new variants of COVID-19 now present in Ontario?

The COVID-19 variants detected in Ontario are more contagious and can make people (including younger individuals) more sicker. This means it’s extra important to continue following all the important public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. This includes

  • Wearing masks
  • Avoiding non-essential travel
  • Limiting trips out of your home
  • Limiting contact to only those people with whom you live
  • Practising physical distancing by staying two metres apart from others
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap and water
  • Coughing/sneezing into your sleeve
  • Following other prevention measures.
  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.

However, there is good news too. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved or are currently in development do provide some protection against the COVID-19 variants. Various vaccine makers hare also reformulating their existing vaccines – or developing new ones – so they provide greater protection against these new variants.

Health Canada is also working with vaccine manufacturers and international regulators to assess the impact of the new variants on the effectiveness of approved vaccines and treatments.

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