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.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. Prevention measures include:
For general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask.
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:
Learn more about practising physical distancing.
COVID-19 symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
You will need to stay home and self-isolate if you have:
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.
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: