General Information About COVID-19
COVID-19: COVID-19 is a unique strain of a large family of viruses (coronaviruses) that can cause respiratory diseases. Because this is a new virus – there is no vaccine for it yet.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to develop after exposure to the virus. Most people infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever and cough. Some people develop more severe symptoms, such as high-grade fever, breathing difficulties or shortness of breath. These symptoms are similar to those of influenza and other coronaviruses, and it is difficult to differentiate COVID-19 from other viruses based on symptoms alone. Call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department if you are experiencing severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, feeling confused or unsure of where you are or losing consciousness.
Because this virus causes infection in the nose, throat, and lungs, coronaviruses can spread from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions, such as droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing. Transmission of COVID-19 is more likely following close contact (within 2 metres or 6 feet) with an infected person, such as household members. Although much remains unknown about this new virus, it can likely spread through touching surfaces that have been contaminated by droplets from an infected person, e.g. through coughing from an infected person. COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days. This means that the virus can live in your body for up to 2 weeks before you get symptoms of the disease. The virus can spread easily once you have symptoms, but may spread before then (during that incubation period) as well. That is why it is important for all of us to practice physical distancing at all times to reduce the spread.
What about ‘herd immunity’?
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community (the herd) becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune. This can occur through immunization or mass exposure to a disease.
COVID-19 is a new virus so we don’t know a lot yet about how long immunity will last after someone has become infected with virus. We do know that people do not develop long lasting immunity from the usual corona virus that causes a cold – you can be infected more than once over a winter with corona virus. We have only had the virus for 6 months so we can’t tell what long lasting immunity would be, possibly not very long. Studies are being done on this now to determine antibody levels in people who have had COVID-19.
You can get the latest local information from the Local Cases & Statistics section at right. We do not provide details about the positive cases as 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 a Public Health staff member actively follows up with all people who tested positive and investigate all people in close contact with individuals who test positive. See the Contact Tracing section for more information.
More information on COVID-19
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Because this virus spreads so easily – we all need to do our part to slow and reduce the spread so our healthcare system is not overloaded. This means:
- Staying home as much as possible
- Practice physical distancing – stay 2 meters (6 feet) away from people in public areas
- Use a cloth face covering/mask if you cannot stay 6 feet away from people when out in public – and in indoor public spaces as required.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer after being in touch with others or handling anything from outside your home
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hands
- Do not share personal items that come into contact with saliva such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, drinks, water bottles, and towels
- If you are experiencing any respiratory symptoms (including fever) – please self-isolate immediately and complete the online self-assessment.
COVID Alert App
Download COVID Alert, a made-in-Ontario, privacy-first app, that is available for free from the Apple and Google Play app stores. The more people who have the app, the more effective the province will be at stopping the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies Ontarians of the potential exposure to COVID-19 to help people protect themselves, their loved ones and community as we carefully reopen.
Some COVID Alert app facts:
- Downloading the app is VOLUNTARY
- It does NOT track your location with GPS. Instead it uses a Bluetooth signal to anonymously alert you if someone near you has tested positive without sharing any personal information.
- It can help by alerting you to someone who spent time in your vicinity who later tested positive for COVID-19.
- It does rely on others using it, that’s why it is only ONE additional way to protect yourself – and not the only thing we should be doing to stay #COVIDSmart
- The government or public health unit does not receive notifications – our contact tracing is done manually and not linked to this app at all.
For more detailed information about stopping the spread of germs visit our Infectious Diseases section.
Flu virus is still circulating in the community. Consider making the flu shot part of your routine in the fall.
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.
Staying at home is not always safe. If you or someone you know is in danger at home from domestic abuse, you can contact Interval House.
- Interval House Lanark County 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-800-267-7946
- Leeds and Grenville Interval House 24-Hour Crisis Line: 1-800-267-4409
- Assault Response and Care Centre provides help for anyone affected by sexual assault or domestic violence: 1-800-567-7415
If you are concerned about the safety and/or well-being of a child or youth under the age of 18 in Leeds, Grenville or Lanark, please contact Family and Children’s Services of LLG at 1-855-667-2726.
There are currently no reports of COVID-19 spreading from packaging. It is best to practice good hand hygiene (washing and sanitizer) after handling any packaging and before handling food.
If getting food or other items delivered – practice physical distancing and use no-contact ways to pay if possible (e-transfer, tap, etc.).
Fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating as before: rinse under cold, safe, running water, rubbing with hands; using a scrub brush if it is a tougher skin.
To limit trips to the grocery store, buy produce with a longer shelf-life (carrots, potatoes, squash, melons, frozen fruits and veggies) and stock up on items that don’t need refrigeration (like dried grains and canned goods).
Current research suggests that the virus that causes COVID-19, can live for several hours on hard surfaces, so laundry machines, countertops, and furniture need to be sanitized frequently.
Health Canada has created a list of disinfectants that are safe and effective against the virus.
Although laundry from sick people should be kept bagged and separate while in your home to prevent accidental handling, there is no need to wash or dry these items separately.
Doctors’ offices and hospitals are still open, so please seek health care when needed. Some services (like prescription refills) might be done over the phone or virtually, so always call ahead to see what the policies and procedures are for your health care provider. General health care is important to stay healthy and be best able to fight an infection if it occurs.
Resources from our friends at Ottawa Public Health:
- Multi-lingual resources on COVID-19 for diverse communities
- COVID-19 Resources for First Nations, Inuit and Metis community members
Pregnancy and Infant Care
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from COVID-19. We recommend pregnant women protect themselves from infection through the regular measures of physical distancing, frequent hand washing and not touching your face.
Given low rates of transmission of respiratory viruses through breastmilk, the World Health Organization states that those who have COVID-19 can breastfeed. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands before and after feeding your baby
- Wear a mask while feeding or caring for your baby
- Ensure breast pump equipment, if used, is cleaned after every use
- If hospitalized, it is your decision whether to room-in (dependant on hospital policy) and nurse at the breast or to separate temporarily and provide pumped milk.
If you have made the informed decision to feed your baby formula, be sure to use only commercial infant formula. It is the only recommended and safe alternative to breast milk. Home-made formula recipes are not a safe or nutritionally adequate substitute for commercial infant formula. They do not offer the right amount of vitamins, minerals and energy that babies need and they could be a food safety risk.
Are you an essential worker? Free emergency childcare may be available. Check these websites and fill in an application to see if you are eligible:
The Role of Your Local Pharmacy
As an essential service, your local pharmacy remains open with their professional staff available to support you and your medication needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since there is no vaccine or treatment, COVID-19 is managed at home in self-isolation with over-the-counter (OTC) medications that reduce fever and body aches. If you are ill, have gone for screening, screened positive and/or are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 (such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing), but require medication, please call your pharmacy and speak to them about options for obtaining your medication, such as getting someone from outside your household (who has not been in contact with you) to pick up your medication or arranging for delivery or curbside pickup. Please do NOT enter the pharmacy yourself.
Your pharmacist may also be able to help you if you are unable to attend an appointment with your prescriber and need refills of your medications, if you have questions about the supply status of your medications, if you need advice on minor ailments, if you need direction on where to go to use the province’s self-assessment tool or to find the latest information from Public Health on physical distancing, respiratory precautions, wearing a cotton mask when in public places, and regular cleaning of common hard surfaces.
As the health hub of many communities, your pharmacy team is always there to support you and the community with information, advice and to work hand in hand with your other medical practitioners towards your overall health and well-being. And some day hopefully soon, when specific treatments and a vaccine become available, your pharmacist will again be there to help you access them. We all need to work together and do our part to help stop others from becoming sick.