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COVID-19 for health professionals

Resources and updates relating to monitoring, assessment and patient care

We’re committed to providing health care professionals with the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This content is monitored regularly, and updates are made as they become available.

Weekly epidemiology update

Key resources

Questions? Contact us at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216 and follow the prompts for health care providers. Our call centre hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Other information

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath

A range of other symptoms may include:

  • sore throat or trouble swallowing
  • runny nose or stuffy nose
  • new loss of sense of smell or taste
  • nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • not feeling well (tired or sore muscles)
  • headache

Refer to the case definition from the Ministry of Health.

Testing should be considered for the following:

Symptomatic individuals

  • Anyone presenting with at least 1 symptom or sign of COVID-19
  • Atypical presentations of COVID-19 should be considered, especially in children, older persons, and people living with a developmental disability./li>

Close contacts

Asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case should be considered for testing at an Assessment Centre or community-based testing site within 14 days from their last exposure or notification from the COVID Alert app.

  • Contacts who had ongoing exposure to the case while infectious or contacts of an outbreak investigation should be tested as soon as possible.
  • Contacts who were only exposed to the case during a discrete period of time should be tested at least 5-7 days after exposure to the case.

If the test result is negative, asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case must remain in self-isolation for 14 days from their last exposure to the case. If an asymptomatic contact tests negative and then subsequently becomes symptomatic, they should be re-tested.

Asymptomatic individuals

Low-risk, asymptomatic individuals should not be considered for testing.

Asymptomatic individuals from certain high-risk populations may be considered for testing at an approved specimen collection location. This includes workers and residents of high-risk settings such as long-term care homes, visitors of long-term care homes, workers and residents of homeless shelters and other congregate settings.

Serology testing is only indicated and available for a limited set of clinical situations and should not be used for screening, determination of immune status or diagnosis of acute COVID-19 infection. For more information, access the Ministry of Health’s document on serology results and management of MIS-C.

Clinicians should reference Ontario’s testing guidance to help guide decision-making when assessing and managing patients from specific settings and priority groups.

Test results

Provide your patients with the You were tested for COVID-19: What you should know handout.

Direct your patients to self-isolate while waiting for their test results. In Peel, close contacts of those with symptoms, including household members, should also self-isolate. This is a requirement under the Class Order issued by the Medical Officer of Health under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Learn more about the Class Order on self-isolation.

Testing related resources:

Peel Public Health will directly contact anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to provide further information and instructions.

People who test positive for COVID-19 must stay in self-isolation for at least 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or at least 10 days from the date they got tested if they do not have symptoms.

Learn more about instructions for people who test positive for COVID-19.

Immunizations during COVID-19 pandemic

Delays in vaccinations may put individuals at risk for vaccine preventable diseases. When you're seeing patients for this essential service, it's recommended that:

  • Individuals requiring immunization are screened for COVID-19 over the phone, before their appointment.
  • Only 1 adult should accompany a child to the appointment.
  • The clinic uses appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when immunizing the individual.

For more information, access our immunization and vaccines page for Health Professionals.

The Pfizer Canada ULC/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have been approved for use in Canada. Access our 2020 and 2021 Health Professionals Updates for more information.

Access the Ministry of Health for COVID-19 vaccine-relevant information and planning resources.

Priority groups

The Ontario government is prioritizing early doses of the vaccine for vulnerable populations and staff who provide care to these groups. For example, residents and staff in congregate living settings such as long-term care and retirement homes, health care workers, adults in Indigenous communities including high-risk remote communities, and adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Learn more about the vaccine from Peel Public Health and the Government of Ontario.

Reporting an adverse event following COVID-19 vaccine

If a patient is showing signs of having an adverse reaction after being given the COVID-19 vaccine:

Serious side effects after receiving the vaccine are rare. However, if a person develops any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, they should seek medical attention right away or call 911 if they are severely unwell.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy)
  • Swelling of the face, tongue or throat
  • Difficulty breathing

Primary care providers should follow the Ministry of Health guidance document for primary care providers in a community setting.

  • All non-essential appointments should be conducted virtually.
  • Screen all patients when booking appointments and as they arrive in clinic.
  • Refer to the guidance document for the appropriate management of patients who screen positive.

Access our Health Professionals Update for more information.

Infection prevention and control

Access Public Health Ontario’s Infection prevention and control assessment for primary care, specialty and walk-in clinics during COVID-19.

Managing cases of COVID-19 in outpatient heath care settings

Peel Public Health is prioritizing investigations in outpatient care settings only where an outbreak is suspected or declared. An outbreak is defined as 2 or more cases within a 2-week period that are epidemiologically linked to the workplace.

Control of isolated cases in such settings (e.g. one or two cases of COVID-19 cases reported among staff or patients/clients) is an occupational health issue and should be managed by the clinic leadership.

Access our Health Professionals Update for more information.

Signage for use in your facility

If you develop symptoms

Health care workers (HCW) who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at work should immediately go home, self-isolate, and contact their occupational health department to arrange testing at an assessment centre. It is recommended that all symptomatic health care workers are tested.

Peel Public Health is contacting all individuals with a positive test result as it is received.

Returning to work for health care workers

HCW should follow isolation and clearance with a non-test based approach unless they have required hospitalization during the course of their illness, in which case a test based approach may be used at the discretion of the hospital. Some HCWs may be directed to have test-based clearance by their employer or Occupational Health and Safety.

Symptomatic HCWs awaiting testing results must be off work.

Asymptomatic HCWs awaiting testing results may continue to work using the appropriate precautions required by the facility, which will depend on the reason for testing.

In exceptional circumstances where clinical care would be severely compromised without additional staffing, an earlier return to work under work self-isolation may be considered for an asymptomatic HCW who is self-isolating due to a high-risk exposure as directed by the employer or Occupational Health and Safety.

For more information, refer to the Ministry of Health Quick Reference Public Health Guidance on Testing and Clearance.

Work self-isolation

  • Work self-isolation means maintaining self-isolation measures outside of work for 14 days from a high-risk exposure, or 10 days from symptom onset (or 10 days from positive specimen collection date if consistently asymptomatic) for cases.
  • While at work, health care workers should always wear a medical mask, use additional PPE as appropriate, maintain physical distancing (>2m) except for when providing direct care, and perform meticulous hand hygiene.
  • Staff on work self-isolation should not work at multiple locations.
  • These work measures are required to continue until non-test based clearance (or test based clearance if required by employer or Occupational Health and Safety).
  • Timing of testing for COVID-19 for asymptomatic close contacts should consider when the exposure occurred and if the contact was exposed at the same time as the case. Testing should be taken approximately 5 days after the date of exposure.

Recommendations for work self-isolation for health care workers (HCWs)

Make sure you check with your occupational health department about your institution’s specific work self-isolation policy.

HCW’s household (HH) member is symptomatic, no known exposure and has not been tested for COVID-19 or is awaiting results.
Work self-isolation until either the household member’s test result comes back or their period of 14 days of self-isolation is complete after last exposure (if HH member not tested).

HCW’s household member is symptomatic, known high risk exposure and has not been tested for COVID-19 (probable case).
HCW should get tested and be excluded from work for 14 days after last exposure.

HCW’s household member is symptomatic, known high risk exposure and awaiting COVID-19 test results.
HCW should be excluded from work until the household member’s test result comes back negative.

HCW’s household member is a positive case.
HCW should be advised to get tested and be excluded from work for 14 days after last exposure.
If co-isolating with a positive case (e.g. young child), the date of last exposure is extended from Day 10 of the end of the child’s isolation period for 14 days.

HCW’s household member is an asymptomatic close contact.
HCW may work self-isolate.
If the household member was unable to effectively isolate at home (e.g. young child), if they become symptomatic or test positive, the HCW should be excluded for 14 days after last exposure.

Peel Public Health is actively monitoring all institutional outbreaks in Peel.

We're supporting long term care and retirement homes in meeting their obligations under the Ministry of Health's Directive #3 and Directive #5, which outline required steps to protect residents and staff of these institutions.

Long term care and retirement homes requiring COVID-19 swabs for testing should submit a request to Ontario Health by completing the PPE and swab kit intake form.

Long term care and retirement homes requiring COVID-19 testing for outbreak testing can complete the COVID-19 test swab request form and then submit the form to PHSwabRequests@peelregion.ca.

Long-term care homes requiring COVID-19 testing for surveillance testing should contact their LHIN Relationship Manager for further information and support for testing.

Dropping-off specimens

Regular specimen drop-off routine should be followed where possible.

Specimens can be dropped off weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Fairview Clinic located at 325 Central Parkway West in Mississauga to be couriered to the Public Health Ontario Labs.

Alternative transport arrangements must be made for specimens collected for facility-wide testing or staff surveillance testing as the Fairview Clinic does not have capacity to store large numbers of specimens.

Properly sealed specimens must be received at the clinic before 11 a.m.

The name of the facility should be indicated on the requisition and the Outbreak Number must be clearly marked on all respiratory samples sent to ensure prioritization at the lab.

Related resources

We've created COVID-19 related documents, posters and other resources that you can share with your patients. Access these resources or our translated resources for information in multiple languages.

For more information in French about COVID-19, visit the Government of Ontario and Public Health Ontario websites. The Ministry of Health also provides health sector guidance documents in French.