Last updated: March 28, 2020 at 9:50 a.m.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, find out if you should visit an assessment centre and where the nearest location is. If you’re having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. It is thought that this new coronavirus originated in animals.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold and spread easily between people. There are however, strains of coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans which have caused more severe illness in humans in the past, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These tend to have more difficulty spreading from person to person.

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. Prevention measures include:

  • Practise physical distancing
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Stay home when you are ill
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

For general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask.

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Printable Information Cards & Posters

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health is recommending physical distancing as a way to minimize COVID-19 transmission in the community. Physical distancing measures include:

  • keeping 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others
  • avoiding mass gatherings
  • avoiding crowds

Learn more about practising physical distancing.

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French



COVID-19 symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches and tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing

Less commonly: sore throat, headache and diarrhea have been reported.

Your risk of severe disease may be higher if you have a weakened immune system. This may be the case for:

  • Older people
  • People with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease

The World Health Organization advises that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 10 to 14 days after contracting COVID-19. This time period may be refined as new information becomes available.

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | French | Farsi


Follow Toronto Public Health’s guide on how to self-monitor (also available in Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French)

Read also Public Health Ontario’s tips on how to self-monitor (also available in: Simplified Chinese Farsi Italian Korean).

Coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms and laboratory tests. Travel history is also important. There is a specific test for COVID-19 to confirm the infection if it is suspected.

Assessment Centres

A number of dedicated assessment centres have been established across Toronto.

Find out if you should visit an assessment centre and where the nearest location is.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is not an assessment centre and testing is not provided at TPH offices.

Toronto Public Health Outreach

Cases and suspected cases of COVID-19 are now reportable to local health authorities under the Provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act. As Toronto Public Health is notified of potential cases, they are immediately following up directly with the individuals to let them know.

Toronto Public Health informs these people of the potential health risk, and provide education and instruction on when and how to seek medical care, if that becomes necessary. This work is part of routine public health follow-up of a case of an infectious disease.

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 as there are no specific treatment for coronaviruses, and there is no vaccine that protects against coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own.

If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your health care practitioner. They can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication.

You should also:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • Try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | French | Farsi

You will need to stay home and self-isolate if you have:

  • A lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, do not require hospitalization, and a medical practitioner has indicated that you can recover at home
  • Are being assessed for COVID-19 infection by a healthcare provider
  • Have travelled from anywhere outside of Canada, including the United States, within the past 14 days

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | French | Farsi

Toronto Public Health Guides

Public Health Ontario Guides


Toronto Public Health will only provide absence letters to individuals they are monitoring in self-isolation.

COVID-19 spreads through the direct contact with the respiratory droplets of someone who is infected with the virus through their cough or sneeze. These droplets can spread up to 2 metres, or 6 feet. It may also be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French

It’s OK not to feel OK

Many people may be feeling anxious, unsure and even scared. These are normal and healthy responses to an abnormal situation. Being pushed out of our regular daily routines, and being distanced from our social connections, support groups and family is hard and many are struggling as a result.  Reach out to friends in a safe way, stay active in your home, do your best to eat well and stay rested.

Residents experiencing stress or crisis and requiring emotional support related to COVID-19 can access the following community resources:

Also available in: Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French