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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

March 29, 2020

Ontario Government Update

Our Public Health Inspectors will be following up to ensure the requirements are met. One way to help people screen themselves before entering a grocery store, is these signs that have been installed.

A message from Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark

The presence of lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 reminds us of the importance of working together to reduce the risk of people becoming sick with COVID-19 – staying home when sick, practice physical distancing, respiratory precautions, and regular cleaning of common hard surfaces. See our frequently asked questions below for more detailed information.

In order to reduce physical contact, we have closed our office and service sites to walk-ins and have moved to providing essential services only. Check our website for a listing of our services.

COVID-19 is present in many countries including the USA, so if you have travelled internationally, it is very important that you stay at home and monitor yourself for symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath for 14 days immediately after your return.If you become ill, please complete the self-assessment tool on the Ministry of Health’s website before calling or contact the Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2499. Do not go to a health care provider or emergency room without notifying them first! Assessment centres are taking referrals from health care only.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is working with our municipalities and local health care providers to be prepared to respond to the presence of the COVID-19 virus in our community.

As this is an evolving situation, we continue to remind people of the importance of using credible sources to stay informed, and encourage others to do the same. We continue to update our website frequently as new information is confirmed.

– Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health

Media Releases

Outbreak found in Almonte Country Haven – March 29, 2020

Community-based COVID-19 Assessment Centre for Brockville/Leeds Grenville Residents Starts Today – March 27, 2020

First Person with Confirmed COVID-19 Reported in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark – March 26, 2020

Slowing the Spread of COVID-19 While Grocery Shopping – March 24, 2020

Health Unit Encourages Social Distancing in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark – March 20, 2020

Public Health Message to Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Residents About Food Premises – March 17, 2020

Public Health Reminds Residents to Help Reduce the Spread of Illness in the Community – March 13, 2020

Information from the Government of Ontario

Measures in place across the social services and youth justice sectors.

Ontario Ministry of Health website – available in multiple languages.

Ontario has launched a website to act as a central point for businesses and organizations who can supply emergency products and innovative solutions to support our response to COVID-19.

Ontario has announced that some child care centres will open to enable health care and other frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police, and correctional officers. More details to come about how this will be done.

Information for the Public

Over the last few days, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit has received confirmation of 15 cases of COVID-19 as of March 29 at noon – 3 long-term care residents, 1 long-term care staff member, 8 isolating at home and 3 in hospital. The increase in cases is not surprising for several reasons. The risk is higher in the United States now and more people returning are testing positive. The Assessment Centres are increasing access to both assessment and testing, and hospital labs in Ottawa and Kingston are now able to process the tests of people in our area with results back in one to two days.

We have an obligation to protect the identity of individuals. As our communities within Leeds, Grenville and Lanark are relatively small, providing further details may put an individual’s identity at risk. Please be assured that our Public Health staff actively investigate all people in close contact with individuals who test positive. Close contacts are required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor their symptoms.

We have been encouraging our residents to act as if the virus is in our communities therefore; our public health messages remain the same. Practice social/physical distancing (2 metres apart), wash your hands thoroughly and often, cover your cough or sneeze, clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, and avoid touching your face unless you have just cleaned your hands.

Anyone who has just returned from international travel, including from the USA, MUST self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation means stay home on your property, avoid contact with others, and keep a distance with those in your home. For more details check out this fact sheet.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of COVID-19 complete this self-assessment tool and follow the guidance provided. If further clinical assessment is advised, call your health care provider or the Health Unit (1-800-660-5853 extension 2499). If you are having severe difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Before visiting any health care provider, call ahead and advise them of your symptoms and travel history.

The main number to call is 1-800-660-5853.

General COVID-19 Enquiries – Extension 2499, available weekdays, from 8:30am until 4:30pm. Also available weekends, from 8:30am until 12:00 noon.

Enquiries from Health Care Providers or for members of the public reporting symptoms – Extension 2222, available 8:30am until 4:30pm, seven days a week.

Duty Desk, (Public Health Inspectors) for business operator enquiries – Extension 2308, also available 8:30am until 4:30pm, seven days a week.

For urgent calls that can’t wait until Health Unit regular hours, call 613-345-5685.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). COVID-19 is a unique strain first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China that has not previously been known to infect humans.

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause illness ranging from very mild illness (about 80% of people infected) to a severe illness that requires hospitalization. Cough, fever or shortness of breath are the most common symptoms among people who have mild infection. People with mild disease can stay at home under self-isolation and are followed by public health until they have 2 negative tests. More severe infection can lead to pneumonia or severe breathing difficulties requiring hospitalization.

To reduce the spread of germs including Influenza (flu), stomach bug (Norovirus) and the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) we recommend that you:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hands
  • If possible, stay home from work if sick (as always, if any concerns, seek medical attention)
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
  • Practice social distancing – stay 2m (6ft) away from people in public areas
  • Do not share personal items that come into contact with saliva such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, drinks, water bottles, and towels

For more detailed information about stopping the spread of germs visit our Infectious Diseases section.

There is no need to wear a mask if you are well and are not caring for someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Wearing a mask may provide a false sense of security and may actually increase the chance of becoming ill as people continually check their masks and touch their faces without first having cleaned their hands.

If you have any respiratory symptoms, you should call ahead before you visit your health care provider and put a mask on before you enter the waiting room.

In health care settings, different forms of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and respirators, are used to help protect health care workers when they are in close contact with patients who are ill. Health care workers are trained on how and when to use PPE. The use of masks and personal protective equipment is not recommended for members of the public who are well.

Flu virus is still circulating in the community so you could speak with your pharmacist or health care provider about the flu shot. Consider making the flu shot part of your routine in the fall.

It’s OK to not feel OK. This is a challenging time for everyone. Creating new routines and rituals, and finding ways to have fun can help to adjust to this new situation. Here are some tips to manage your mental well-being and some great resources from other organizations:

  • Limit your intake of media. Choose 1 or 2 times a day to update yourself on the latest news so you are not bombarded by a constant stream of negative information.
  • Focus on self-care by enjoying nutritious foods, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Our immune system works best when we take care of ourselves.
  • Connect with friends and family over the phone or internet so you don’t feel isolated. Texting doesn’t give the same feeling of connection as seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice. There are lots of digital technologies that can help us connect while still keeping physically distant.
  • Reach out for help when you need it. There are people ready to help you.

Additional Resources and Websites:

Social distancing means limiting the number of people with whom you come into close contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community.

Public health officials encourage residents to stay home, when possible, and reduce their interactions with others.

The most important thing you can do is stay home when you are sick. You can also:

Cancel large gatherings

  • cancel gatherings, especially with vulnerable residents, including seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions

Cancel non-essential trips

  • consider if outings are necessary
  • no parties or playdates

Limit, postpone or cancel small gatherings

  • gatherings should be limited to small family groups
  • if you can, connect with friends by phone or online
  • keep children away from group settings including indoor playdates with other children

For essential trips (e.g. groceries, work)

  • sanitize or wash your hands when entering and exiting buildings
  • avoid long lineups
  • use tap to pay rather than handling money if possible
  • when taking public transit, avoid prolonged close contact with others
  • shop during non-peak hours if possible
  • take shorter trips rather than one long trip – try not to spend time browsing

Go outdoors

  • take a walk, go to the park, walk the dog
  • keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others and stay home when sick
  • greet others with a wave, a bow or a nod (in place of handshakes or hugs)
  • after going outside, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Avoid visits to care facilities

  • protect vulnerable family members by avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes and other care settings unless it is absolutely essential

Consider alternative ways to work

  • work from home, if feasible
  • facilitate virtual meetings (video or teleconferencing)

Stay physically active

  • go for walks or exercise outdoors
  • do yoga or aerobics at home

While you may not feel sick we ask that you be mindful of those more vulnerable in our community.

Thank you for your efforts to keep everyone healthy.

We are all in this together.

Self-isolation means stay home on your property, avoid contact with others, and keep a distance with those in your home. For more details check out this fact sheet.

Even if you do not have symptoms, you MUST self-isolate for 14 days.

The Government of Canada has new rules for travelers arriving in Canada.

What is self-isolation?

  • This pamphlet outlines the specifics of self-isolation.
  • Basically it means you must ensure you have no contact with others who live outside your home and restricted contact with those in your home.
  • You can go outside in your own yard as long as no-one else is there.
  • You cannot walk around town in case you meet other people.
  • If you live in a multi-unit building, then you must use a mask if you leave your unit to use any of the facilities in the building.
  • Defer medical and other appointments unless they are critical. Let the care provider know ahead of time that you are in self-isolation, and wear a mask at the visit and do not use taxi or public transportation.

This applies to people who:

  • Are being tested for COVID-19 until the lab results come back
  • Have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America) for 14 days after arrival in Canada
  • Live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19

With most respiratory viruses, persons are most infectious when they are ill and are coughing or sneezing. It is less common for a person to spread a respiratory virus if they are not feeling ill or if they feel just a little bit ill. According to the World Health Organization, based on the current available data, people who have symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would be causing the majority of virus spread.

For now, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for most people with coronavirus infection. Symptom management is the primary focus of treating individuals with this illness. Individuals usually recover with the supportive care that is regularly offered to manage pneumonia.

The Ontario Government has mandated that non-essential businesses close temporarily to stop the spread of COVID-19. Here is the link to the list of businesses that are essential. If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Business, organizations and other workplaces that are essential and remain open should continue to use regular infection prevention and control practices to prevent the spread of illnesses. We have produced some signage for common areas accessed by the public, please feel free to print and post. You can also help to support social distancing by using tape on the ground to show the 2m distance in line up areas or a table to keep distance from reception counters and cashiers.

Resources for Employers:

As COVID-19 continues to spread internationally, it is becoming likely we will see more cases in Ontario and possibly our communities. There are things you can do to prepare in case you or someone in your house becomes ill and are asked to self-isolate at home until the infection clears, or if you have close contact exposure with someone who has the COVID-19 infection.

  • Stock up on non-perishable foods gradually over the next few weeks.
  • Follow these tips for Personal Preparedness during Emergencies.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Be prepared for two weeks should you become ill or are in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection and have to self-isolate at home.
  • Fill prescriptions for an extra month if you’re able.
    • Get refills with enough notice so that you do not run out of medication you may need.
    • Have over-the-counter pain/fever medications on hand.
  • Make plans for your children or other dependents in case you may be sick.
  • Stock up on supplies for your pets.
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies.
  • Ensure you have adequate sanitary and hygiene supplies.
  • Call your friends and neighbours and make plans to check in on each other; being prepared to help others out if there is a need to self-isolate.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms of COVID-19 complete a self-assessment on-line and follow the guidance provided. If further clinical assessment is advised, DO NOT show up at emergency departments, health care provider’s offices or assessment centres. Please call your health care provider, Telehealth 1 866-797-0000 or the Health Unit 1-800-660-5853 x 2499. If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history.

Currently there is no evidence that imported goods are a concern for the transmission of COVID-19. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets that have been produced recently by coughing or sneezing. While under some circumstances coronaviruses can survive for some days on surfaces, for shipped goods this is not considered an issue of concern.

It’s OK to not feel OK. This is a challenging time for everyone. Creating new routines and rituals, and finding ways to have fun can help to adjust to this new situation. Here are some tips to manage your mental well-being and some great resources from other organizations:

  • Limit your intake of media. Choose 1 or 2 times a day to update yourself on the latest news so you are not bombarded by a constant stream of negative information.
  • Focus on self-care by enjoying nutritious foods, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Our immune system works best when we take care of ourselves.
  • Connect with friends and family over the phone or internet so you don’t feel isolated. Texting doesn’t give the same feeling of connection as seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice. There are lots of digital technologies that can help us connect while still keeping physically distant.
  • Reach out for help when you need it. There are people ready to help you.
  • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-866-281-2911
  • CMHA’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600
  • Good2Talk for post-secondary students: 1-866-925-5454
    • Or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
  • Bounce Back phone & online mental health program for adults and youth ages 15 and over
    • Longer term program – needs referral from primary healthcare professional

Additional Resources and Websites:

Information for Schools

For up to date information on school closures related to COVID 19, visit: Ministry of Education Website.

For more information on this and other topics visit the Educators – Infections, Illnesses and Diseases section of our website.

Information for Health Care Providers and Hospitals

Persons under investigation or probable cases of COVID-19 who meet the case definition must be reported by phone immediately to the local Health Unit at 613-345-5685 or 1-800-660-5853. During business hours ask for the Infectious Diseases Team. After hours, follow directions to contact the Medical Officer of Health. The Public Health Laboratory will report all positive and negative lab results to the Health Unit.

Public Health Ontario Laboratories Testing Information: Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Public Health Ontario Laboratory Testing Supplies

International travellers (including from the United States) MUST self-isolate for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms. If they have symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, they should call their health care provider, TeleHealth or the Health Unit.

Travellers should inform their Health Care Provider or the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit about symptoms and travel history before seeking medical care.

Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 and do not require hospitalization for medical reasons can be self-isolated at home under public health follow-up if the home setting is appropriate. Public health is responsible for the contact tracing of all positive cases, and will require that individuals with significant contact self-isolate for a 14 day period.

For more information on this and other Reportable Diseases visit our Reportable Disease Toolkit.

Information for Emergency Service Workers

Ontario Ministry of Health Guidance Documents

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel Advice

WHO COVID-19 Situation Dashboard

For more information on this and other topics visit the First Responders section of our website.