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COVID-19

COVID-19

Protect Yourself and Others

COVID-19 continues to spread in our communities along with several other viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and seasonal influenza. Now, it is even more important that everyone continues to use multiple layers of protection to reduce the risk of becoming sick and to protect the people closest to us and members of our community who are most vulnerable. The risk of infection and severe illness can be reduced by continuing to use the following layers of protection:

If you feel sick with symptoms of COVID-19 , assume you have the virus and follow the actions outlined below. Symptoms of COVID-19 and its variants range from mild to severe and are similar to the common cold and seasonal flu.

Inform your contacts:

To help prevent the virus from spreading tell your household members and close contacts that you are sick so they can self-monitor and take extra precautions recommended for people who may have been exposed. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, and without measures such as masking, distancing, and/or the use of personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first.

Stay home:

If you have symptoms stay home and self-isolate to prevent spreading the illness to others and until ALL of the following apply to you:

  • your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea)
  • you do not have a fever
  • you do not develop any additional symptoms.

 

After staying home:

After your symptoms have improved and you are no longer staying home, you may still be able to spread the virus. To prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, take extra precautions for 10 days after your symptoms started:

  • wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
  • avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, dining out)
  • avoid non-essential visits to anyone who is immunocompromised or may be at higher risk of illness (for example, seniors)
  • avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings in the community such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

 

Information for people who are immunocompromised

If you are immunocompromised and have symptoms or test positive, stay home for 10 days after your symptoms started/or positive test result, whichever comes first, until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea), and there’s no fever. If you are immunocompromised and have symptoms but test negative, you can stop isolating at home and follow the above recommendations for ‘after staying home’.

Taking additional precautions can add another layer of prevention against the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses circulating in the community. Take the following additional precautions if you tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms or you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 but have no symptoms.

For 10 days after the last day of exposure, or positive test result (with no symptoms):

  • self-monitor for new or worsening symptoms
  • seek testing (if eligible) if you develop any new or different symptoms
  • you are temporarily removing it for essential activities (such as when eating in shared space at school/work) while still maintaining as much distancing from others as possible
  • you are unable to mask (such as children under two years of age)
  • avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, playing a wind instrument, sports that require removing your mask, dining out)
  • avoid visiting anyone who is immunocompromised or may be at higher risk of illness (for example, seniors)
  • avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings, such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

There are two main publicly-funded tests available in Ontario to those who are eligible: rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Locations to get rapid antigen tests

Locations to get a publicly-funded PCR test

Locations of clinical assessment centres 

Antiviral treatments are now available for people with symptoms and a positive test result (PCR or rapid antigen test) who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. These treatments must be taken immediately within the first five to seven days (depending on the treatment) of symptom onset.

Make sure you know if you are eligible for COVID treatments and how to get tested and access treatment if you are eligible.

We strongly recommend that all individuals wear a well-fitted three-layer mask or medical mask in indoor public settings.

Masking at home and in other private settings is also strongly recommended if you have any respiratory symptoms and have at-risk people in your household, including children under five years of age, older adults, or those with medical conditions.

Showing kindness to those that continue to protect themselves by wearing a mask is also strongly encouraged as a way to show respect for each other’s personal choices and private health decisions. To learn about face coverings or masks and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19, visit Ontario.ca.

Wearing a mask is required:


Wearing a mask is recommended:

  • After having COVID-19 symptoms, testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19 for 10 days and in all public places (including school and child care) unless you need to temporarily remove it (maintain physical distance when the mask is removed) or if you are unable to wear a mask (such as children under two years of age). Avoid non-essential activities where you need to remove your mask.
  • In other settings where individuals are at high risk for severe illness like congregate settings such as group homes and shelters.
  • For people at risk for severe illness to provide additional protection.
  • When a business or organization has developed their own masking policy.

It is important to know your risk of getting severe illness from COVID-19, as well as the risks of people you live with and spend time with. Knowing when you and/or others have increased risk of severe illness will help you decide what added layers of protection are needed to protect yourself and others.

It is recommended that people who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 AND members of their household take extra precautions and add additional layers of protection as the COVID-19 Community Risk Level and situational risks increase.

If you have increased risk of severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are eligible for antiviral treatment if you do get COVID-19.

Risk factors that increase the chance of becoming seriously ill if infected with COVID-19 include:

  • being unvaccinated against COVID-19. One of the best ways to protect yourself from getting serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and stay up to date with recommended vaccinations.
  • 60 years of age and older
  • immunocompromised or are taking immunosuppressant medications
  • pregnant or recently gave birth
  • obesity (BMI of 30 or more)
  • diabetes
  • heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure
  • chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis
  • cerebral palsy
  • developmental disability or intellectual disability (e.g., down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease (for example, Child Pugh Class B or C cirrhosis).

Each situation you are in has different risks of COVID-19 spreading. Increase the layers of protection you use when planning to be in situations that increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Situations with more risk of COVID-19 spreading include those where:

  • People you are interacting with are unvaccinated or not up to date with all recommended vaccinations.
  • People you are interacting with are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
  • The space will be crowded or people will be in close contact (less than 2 metres apart).
  • You will be in close physical contact with people for more than 15 minutes.
  • The activity is inside and the windows and doors are closed.
  • None or few of the people in the space wear a mask.

There are also recommendations and requirements for businesses and employers to help create safer places for workers, customers and the public.

Other COVID-19 Information and Resources

The Simcoe Muskoka Safe Voluntary Isolation Site (SVIS) is a place for people who need to self-isolate due to having symptoms of COVID-19 but do not have access to an adequate shelter or cannot safely self-isolate in their own homes. The SVIS is designed to give people a secure, comfortable, and private space to rest and recover, without fear or anxiety of transmitting the virus to their family, roommates, or other people they live with.

Self-isolation is a proven way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among household members and the community at-large. Self-isolation is required if you have symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of your vaccination status.

Do you need help to self-isolate?

Any Simcoe Muskoka resident that is unable to safely self-isolate is eligible to access this service. There are no costs associated with staying at the SVIS and transportation can be arranged for those who need it, free of charge. Through case and contact investigations, public health professionals at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will assess individuals’ needs to help identify those who require safe accommodation for COVID-19 self-isolation. Please call our Health Connection line at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 ext. 5829 or send an email to Health Connection using our online form for more information and how to access this service.

Please note that the health unit is required to provide your COVID-19 status, either positive or negative, to the SVIS so that they can take any necessary infection prevention and control measures. Your COVID-19 status will only be shared with necessary staff.

Long COVID or Post COVID-19 Syndrome describes a range of symptoms which can persist for weeks to months after severe, mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. The many symptoms associated with Long COVID are varied and affect people in different ways. They may remit and relapse. Most common symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • memory problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • general pain and discomfort
  • difficulty thinking and concentrating

Prevention of Long COVID

The best way to prevent Long COVID is to prevent infection from COVID-19 through vaccination and by using many layers of protection like wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand washing. Vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of developing Long COVID, as research has shown it is protective even if you develop COVID-19 infection. 

Treatment of Long COVID

Seek assessment with your health care provider if you have post COVID-19 symptoms

Resources: 

Page last updated: November 18, 2022

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