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Protecting yourself and others

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed.

We encourage residents to keep their distance while outside, and make sure to avoid crowds. Residents should stay close to home when exercising and continue to limit excursions to essential reasons.

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly recommends that residents over the age of 70 should stay home and go out for solo exercise or essential needs. Where possible, get help on family and social supports as much as possible for essential needs. This also applies if you have a medical condition or a compromised immune system.

You should also avoid social gatherings and of more than 5 people, as ordered by the Ontario government.

Beware of people contacting you by phone or at your door

Peel Public Health does not:

  • Ask for credit card or health card information in communicating COVID-19 test results.
  • Sell or deliver COVID-19 test kits or Personal Protection Equipment such as gowns and surgical masks.

You should report a fraud to the Police non-emergency line.

Protect yourself

Continue to take the following precautions:

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.

Other information

Masks and face coverings

We recommend wearing a non-medical mask when it’s hard to maintain physical distance from others (for example, on public transit or in grocery stores).

Masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. The use of non-medical masks or face coverings may not protect you but may help protect those around you.

Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients. We're accepting donations of surgical masks and other personal protective equipment.

When wearing masks, it's still important to consistently practice good hand hygiene and physical distancing when out in public. Other steps to follow:

  • Wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before, during and after wearing a mask.
  • Wash and disinfect fabric masks or throw away and replace single-use masks with a new mask as soon as a mask gets damp. Cloth face coverings can be safely cleaned in a washing machine.
  • Do not place cloth face coverings on children under age 2 or on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

See Public Health Ontario's detailed instructions on proper mask use for the general public (PDF).

Gloves

Gloves are recommended for specific situations like caring for sick individuals or food preparation safety.

Wearing of gloves in public for general activities is not recommended. If not worn properly, it may increase the chance of transmission. Gloves are not a replacement for good handwashing practices.

If you do decide to wear gloves, follow these steps:

  • Don't touch your face or cover your cough or sneeze with gloves.
  • Wash your hands before putting gloves on and taking them off.
  • Throw out disposable gloves after you've used them.
Proper disposal

Always put masks, gloves and other home health care waste in a bag before throwing them in the garbage. Learn more about how to sort your waste.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

The virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses that have emerged in recent years include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause symptoms like the common cold but can advance, in some cases, to severe respiratory illness or even death. Coronaviruses are predominately passed from animals to people but can also spread from person-to-person.

How the virus spreads

Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household, workplace, or health care centre.

There has been person-to-person transmission among those infected with COVID-19.

It's different than SARS or MERS-CoV

Although SARS and MERS-CoV are also coronaviruses, COVID-19 is a novel strain that has not been seen previously.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • new or worsening cough
  • difficulty breathing

A range of other symptoms may include:

  • sore throat
  • runny nose or sneezing (unless due to seasonal allergies or post-nasal drip.)
  • nasal congestion
  • difficulty swallowing
  • new loss of sense of smell or taste
  • nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Less common symptoms may occur. Special attention should be paid if they happen in children, seniors, and people living with a developmental disability.

Access an outline of all of the symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health.

When to contact a health care provider

Contact your health care provider, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or Peel Public Health if you're experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Peel Public Health can be reached at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216. Our Public Health call centres are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week.

If your symptoms change or worsen, you may need to seek medical attention or get re-tested. If you have any severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911. Learn more about getting tested for COVID-19.

Pregnant women

COVID-19 is a new disease and information is still emerging on how the virus impacts pregnant women. Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 causes more severe illness in pregnant women or that the developing baby could be negatively affected.

We do know that complications from other respiratory diseases like influenza are more common in pregnant women.

It's important to take extra precautions to protect against illness by:

  • Staying home.
  • Talking to your health care providers about the possibility of having your appointments by phone or video conference.
  • Avoiding unnecessary visitors at home.
  • Following hand washing and physical distancing guidelines.
  • Avoiding crowded places and making limited trips to the store for essentials.
  • Avoiding public transit.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has additional advice for mothers on pregnancy, childbirth and caring for newborns.

Babies

There have been very few babies reported as COVID-19 cases, so information about how the virus affects infants is limited.

Feeding your baby

Parents and caregivers should take the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles.
  • You may consider wearing a mask if you are sick.

Safe formula preparation and bottle feeding:

  • Regular sterilization processes apply to the COVID-19 context.
  • Refer to product information on how to sterilize the product properly.

Spread of COVID-19 through breast milk

We are still learning about how COVID-19 is spread. Person-to-person spread is thought to happen mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is the same way influenza is spread.

Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. COVID-19 has not been found in breast milk and it's not likely that the virus can spread while breastfeeding, although more research is needed in this area.

Additional precautions:

  • Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use.
  • Ask someone who is well to bottle feed expressed milk to the baby.

People at higher risk for illness

While COVID-19 can make anyone sick, some people may be more at risk of developing serious complications. If you're at risk for complications, you can take action to reduce your chances of getting sick from COVID-19. The following are considered higher risk:

  • Seniors.
  • Those with weakened immune systems.
  • Those with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Reduce your risk

  • Stay at home and only leave for essential trips, such as medical appointments.
  • Ask family, neighbours or friends to help with errands like picking up prescriptions and groceries.
  • Go outside solo for daily exercise.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and light switches.
  • Find social support available in your community for help with meals, groceries, medications and other errands.
Cleaning and disinfecting your home

Coronaviruses, like the virus that causes COVID-19, do not survive for long periods of time on surfaces based on what we currently know. The COVID-19 virus may survive on common surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours, and up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

It's important to clean frequently touched items such as light switches, doorknobs, sink and toilet handles, toys, phones and television remote controls. Dishes and laundry do not require special cleaning and disinfection measures.

How to clean and disinfect
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects using soap and water before disinfecting.
  • Choose a product that is labelled as a "disinfectant." The product label must claim to kill viruses or bacteria and be intended for use on objects and surfaces only, not for use on the skin.
  • Check to make sure the product is not expired.
  • Use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • After using the disinfectant, let the object or surface air dry, giving the disinfectant enough time to kill the virus. Do not wipe the surface dry after applying the disinfectant.
Caring for pets

There have been limited reports of animals becoming infected with COVID-19. There's currently no evidence that pets play a large role in spreading COVID-19.

If you're sick, it's recommended that you avoid contact with pets and other animals, just like you would with other people, until more is known.

Learn more about how to care for pets and other animals during COVID-19 (PDF).

COVID-19 is being transmitted to others within the community in Peel. There are also confirmed cases of community transmission in other jurisdictions across Ontario.

Community transmission happens when the virus spreads from person-to-person and we are unable to identify a close contact with COVID-19 or no travel history. This means that someone contracted COVID-19 but we don't know the source.

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 increases with community transmission. For this reason, it's even more important than ever for residents to practice physical distancing. This means, avoiding physical contact and staying a safe distance of 2 metres away from other people.

Key steps include:

  • Staying a safe distance of 2 metres away from other people.
  • Avoiding handshaking.
  • Wearing a non-medical mask in public settings where it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing.
  • Working from home when possible.
  • Choosing virtual meetings over in-person meetings.
  • Avoiding crowds, and places where people are close together.
  • Cancelling group gatherings.

Physical distancing doesn't mean you can't stay socially connected with friends and family. Look for new ways to stay connected during this challenging time.

Playgrounds and other outdoor recreational facilities

We encourage you to stay healthy and active while observing physical distancing, such as taking walks and getting fresh air.

Although Ontario has permitted the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, many remain closed in Peel to protect the health of our community.

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities remain closed across the Ontario. Check your local municipality for details on closures to outdoor recreational amenities.

Some provincial parks and conservation reserves are open with limited day-use access, and activities are limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Camping is not allowed at any provincial park or conservation reserve. Access Ontario Parks for more information.

When outdoors, maintain a safe physical distance of at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not from your household. Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water when you get back home.

Ontario has extended its emergency declaration and emergency orders. The following are currently closed:

  • events and gatherings of more than 5 people
  • recreational programs
  • libraries
  • private schools and child care centres, excluding emergency child care to support essential workers
  • bars and restaurants, except those that may only offer takeout or delivery
  • recreational camping on Crown land

Essential services remain open and operational.

Mandatory self-isolation

The Government of Canada has put an emergency order in place that requires mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all individuals entering Canada, even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Self-isolation means you must stay at home and monitor yourself for symptoms Visit self-isolation and testing to find out what to do if you develop symptoms.

Essential service workers such as health care workers returning from travel outside of Canada should also follow the mandatory quarantine. However, some of these workers may be able to return to work earlier than 14 days after arriving in Canada if they do not have symptoms and are considered critical to operations.

If you're an essential service worker you should contact your occupational health department or Peel Public Health. If you do return to work, you should continue to self-monitor for symptoms and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop.

Returning to Canada

When you return to Canada you will need to confirm that you have a suitable plan for isolation. Under the order by the Canadian government, you cannot isolate in a place where you would be in contact with vulnerable people, including seniors, or people with pre-existing medical conditions. You must also confirm that you will have access to essentials such as food and medication.

These plans need to be made before arriving in Canada. If you do not have an appropriate place to isolate, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will designate a facility where you must stay for 14 days.

Go directly from your landing location to your place of isolation without stopping. You must wear a non-medical mask or face covering while travelling to your place of isolation. You will be provided a mask if you do not have one.

Compliance

Violating instructions provided to you when you entered Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act. Such offences could result in a fine and/or imprisonment. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the lead enforcement agency for the Quarantine Act.

The Government of Canada has advised against all non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Read the COVID-19 travel advisories for more information

Additional information

If you have questions, Peel Public Health can be reached at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216. Our Public Health call centres are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week. If you're feeling well, you do not need to contact public health.

If you have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911. Inform 911 of your symptoms and recent travel history to make sure the right infection prevention and control precautions are taken.

On April 1, Peel Public Health issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Learn more about the COVID-19 class order (PDF).

Requirements include the following:

All residents with COVID-19, those considered probable cases and all associated close contacts, must stay in their homes for 14 days or risk daily fines up to $5,000.

These residents may not leave their home or isolation facility for any reason during this period of isolation unless:

  • They are on a private balcony or in an enclosed yard on their property where they can avoid close contact with others.
  • They need to seek emergency medical attention.

These residents must avoid all contact with others including:

  • Avoiding all contact with vulnerable persons (for example, those with underlying medical conditions, compromised immune systems, seniors, or reliant on homeless shelter/other congregate living setting).
  • Avoiding contact with household members as much as possible (for example, wear a mask if you need to be in the same room).

These residents must follow instructions for infection control as directed by Public Health.

  • handwashing, changing and disposal of masks, not sharing any dishes/cutlery, using a separate washroom if available, sleeping in room by yourself if possible, using separate towels.

These residents should seek prompt medical attention if illness worsens.

Ontario has extended its emergency declaration and emergency orders prohibiting organized public events and social gatherings of more than 5 people.

This order does not apply to:

  • Private households consisting of 5 people or more.
  • Child care centres supporting essential workers, if the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people.
  • Funeral proceedings with up to 10 people at one time.

Organized public events include:

  • parades
  • events including weddings
  • social gatherings
  • communal services within places of worship