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COVID-19

COVID-19

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care. If you need immediate medical attention you should call 911 and tell them your symptoms and if you have travelled.

Have you been tested for COVID-19? Check your lab results.


Everyday actions to protect yourself and others

Each of us can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and across the region. There are everyday actions we should all use to protect ourselves and others. These actions are very important because: 

  • The majority of cases in our region are caused by community transmission of COVID-19, which means the virus is spreading in the community from person to person and is not linked to travel or a previously known case.
  • This is not just a disease affecting the elderly, most of our cases are among adults between 35 and 64 years of age.
  • For information on local cases visit HealthSTATS.

These recommended actions can help stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 ( these do not apply to individuals that MUST self-isolate due to travel, are in an at-risk group; or have symptoms):

  • Limit the number of people you come in contact with and stay at home unless you have to go to work (talk to your employer about working at home if possible).
  • Individuals over the age of 70 or those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions are strongly urged to stay at home. 
  • Avoid all non-essential trips into your community. If you leave your home, always keep a distance of at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others. 

We are strongly recommending that people stay at their primary residence. The Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams has also provided his support for this message “that people should preferentially stay home and not access secondary residences, recognizing that there may be limited, essential reasons to do so”.

We know that COVID-19 does not just show up in a community, it gets there by someone bringing it, including by those who may not even have symptoms. We are asking you to work with us to flatten the curve.

The potential harms associated with traveling to and using your cottage, even for a day, include:

  • The more people travelling and stopping for gas and groceries, the more risk of spreading this virus.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 can happen rapidly and overwhelm a person, forcing them to immediately require EMS. You may not have time to travel home. Consider the huge numbers of seasonal residents that come to our area. It would take only a small fraction of our cottagers to become ill before it would push our healthcare capabilities past their limit. That means it could be you or a family member who may not have access to the intensive care bed or ventilator if you contract the virus.
  • There are plenty of reasons why people require emergency services that you can’t anticipate. Just by opening up your cottage, you may be putting different trade workers in the same space. By turning on your electricity, you may be increasing the risk of accidents and fires. If you require emergency assistance during this time, you are forcing front-line health care workers, police and firefighters, many of whom are volunteers, into social contact.
  • We are aware that despite this strong message to stay home, there will still be some people who will make the decision to go to their cottage. If that is what you choose to do despite the request to not do so, you need to ensure that you follow public health measures, including:
  • o physical distancing of at least 2 metres from other people;
    o staying at their cottage as much as possible;
    o purchasing food and medications in their own community before arriving at their cottage and limiting their visits to the local community for essential shopping only;
    o no gatherings of more than five people unless they are all from the same household;
    o practicing proper hand washing and cough hygiene, including frequent handwashing; and self-isolating if they develop symptoms.

There currently is no enforcement, or “barricades” or fines so at the end of the day we are appealing to informed, responsible people to stay home and help us all get through this public health emergency together.

  • Physical distancing means keeping 2 metres or 6 feet between you and another person, unless they are members of your household.
  • Do not gather in groups. 
  • Limit contact with people at higher risk (e.g. older adults and those in poor health). 
  • Everyone should do their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. 
  • Physical distancing does not necessarily mean becoming socially isolated. Find new ways to connect with others and practice self-care during this time. Take care of yourself and each other.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.

Wearing a non-medical mask (for example a homemade cloth mask) in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical distancing, will reduce your chances of being exposed to the virus.

However, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is advising that wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, especially when you are unable to physically distance yourself.

Wearing a non-medical mask is another way to prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. Just like the recommendation not to cough into hands (instead, cover cough with tissues or sleeve), a mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with respiratory droplets.

It is important to understand that non-medical masks have limitations and need to be used safely.

When to use a non-medical mask:

  • When you are in a public setting where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially when there is evidence of community-based transmission.
  • If you are coughing or sneezing. Wearing a non-medical mask is another way to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. Just like our recommendation not to cough into your hands (instead, cover your cough with tissues or your sleeve), a mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with your respiratory droplets.
  • If wearing a non-medical mask makes you feel safer and stops you from touching your nose and mouth that is also good. But remember not to touch your face or rub your eyes.

How to use a non-medical mask:

  • You must wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to washing your hands while wearing it).
  • Ensure it fits well over your nose and mouth (non-gaping). Do not share it with others. 
  • Avoid touching your face mask while using it. 
  • Change a cloth mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled.
    • Non-medical masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must consistently and strictly adhere to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent handwashing and physical distancing.

How to clean a cloth mask:

  • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of 
    - cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
  • Cloth face masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.
  • Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face mask and wash hands immediately after removing.
  • Non-medical masks that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled: 
    - dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin. 
    - do not leave discarded masks in shopping carts, on the ground, etc.

How to make a cloth mask:

It is important to know that there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being linked to the spread of COVID-19. You’re more likely to be infected by your fellow shoppers than anything you purchase. There are things you can do to reduce your risks when shopping.

Decide on who goes shopping:

Choose a person in your household who is in good health to be the main grocery shopper. Shop only if you feel well and can be reasonably sure that you have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is showing symptoms.

  • Do not go out and shop if you are:

      - sick or living with someone who is sick 

      - over 70 years of age 

      - have a weakened immune system or chronic health condition 

  • Plan your shopping list carefully so that you can buy enough food and other supplies to last at least a week or two. Buy more and aim for only one trip a week. 
  • Shop alone, only one person per household and no children if possible.

When you are shopping:

  • Shop at a less busy time. Be cautious about store hours set aside for “‘seniors-only” shopping. They can be busier than if you went at an off-peak hour on a different day.
  • Be respectful of store employees. They are doing their best in a difficult situation. 
  • Clean the handle of your cart. 
  • Bring your own wipes and hand sanitizer; although the stores have been trying hard to keep a public stock, the supplies are short. 
  • Wash or sanitize your hands as you enter and after to get into your car. 
  • Keep your distance from others while in the store. Staying 2 metres or roughly 2 arms-length (6 feet) apart is an easy way to measure your distance.
  • Handle only the items you intend to buy. 
  • Use a credit or debit card to avoid handling money or receiving change. 
  • Avoid touching your face. 
  • Know that gloves are not necessary and offer no added protection. Frequent handwashing is key.

Back at home: 

  • Once home, wash your hands well before and after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating, and before you eat. 
  • Clean counters and other surfaces you’ve touched after you've put away the groceries. Regularly clean surfaces and cooking equipment that may come in contact with food.
  • How to prepare diluted bleach for a solution to disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Delivery and take-out: 

  • Follow the drop-off or pick-up instructions given by the restaurant or grocery store. 
  • Ask for the food to be left on the doorstep. 
  • Minimize contact with employees. Stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart from the delivery person. 
  • If picking up groceries, consider opening the car door or trunk latch yourself so the person loading does not touch your car handles. 
  • Use touch-free or cashless payments. 
  • Prepay via the internet or telephone for your delivery order. 
  • Remove your food from the external packaging and dispose of it in the garbage or recycling right away.
  • Avoid touching your face. 
  • Wash your hands well for 15 seconds after touching packaging and before eating. 

NEW: In these difficult times, when everyone's lives are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can do something important for your family, friends, neighbours and community. Please participate in Statistics Canada data collection on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians.

The information will be used by various government departments to evaluate the need for health and social services, as well as economic support, during and after the pandemic. In order to collect information on specific topics related to the impacts of the pandemic, the questionnaire will change on a regular basis so please check back often to participate in as many as you can.

For more information 

Ontario Ministry of Health

Public Health Ontario

  • Information Sheets on: How to Self-Monitor; Self-Isolation; and Guide for Caregivers, Household Members and Close Contacts

 Government of Canada - Fact sheets are available in multiple languages

     
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