What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) causes a respiratory infection that originated in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe, and can include:
- difficulty breathing
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- runny nose
If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19
- Anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) should return home and self-isolate immediately.
- People who are self-isolating should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either by calling their primary care provider’s office or Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000. If you need additional assessment, your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario will direct you to in-person care options.
Do not visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a health care professional.
Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency and you need immediate medical attention.
Use this self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care.
How to Protect Yourself
Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.
There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus.
There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:
- wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- sneeze and cough into your sleeve
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- avoid contact with people who are sick
- stay home if you are sick
Everyone in Ontario should be practicing social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people.
Everyone in Ontario should do their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. Close contact includes being within two (2) meters of another person.
If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you should begin to self-monitor for a period of 14 days. This means that, in addition to social distancing, you should track how you feel. You should take your temperature daily and log any other symptoms that develop (for example, sore throat, new cough). You can share these records with your primary care provider over the phone if you seek assessment services.
How to self-isolate
Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community.
All persons over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.
When self-isolating you should:
- Stay home
- do not use public transportation, taxis or ride shares
- do not go to work, school or other public places
- your health care provider will tell you when it is safe to leave
- Limit the number of visitors in your home
- Avoid contact with others
- Keep distance
- Cover your coughs and sneezes (cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand)
- Wash your hands
- wash your hands often with soap and water
- dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares
- use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
Guide: How to self-isolate
Face Masks and Coverings
Wearing a face mask or covering may not protect you from COVID-19, but it may protect others from your respiratory droplets and germs. The best protection is to stay home, keep six feet from others and wash your hands often.
However, if you are unable to maintain a two metre (six feet) distance from others, such as on transit, in an elevator, grocery shopping or entering and leaving your apartment building, a face mask or covering can be used.
You can make your own mask with materials you already have at home (e.g. cotton t-shirt or pillowcase) or use a scarf or bandana to cover your face.
Guide: COVID-19 Guidance for Use of Face Masks and Coverings by the Public and on this link as well. The City of Toronto has produced three short videos on how to effectively use non-medical masks or face coverings when physical distancing isn’t possible: Proper use of a cloth mask; 5 Things to remember about face masks and coverings; Choosing the right face mask or covering.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources:
- COVID-19 self-assessment tool
- How to wash and sanitize your hands
- Guide: How to self-isolate
- Guide: How to self-monitor
- Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts
Government Health Resources:
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