Frequently Asked Questions on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is an evolving situation and we'll continue to update information as it becomes available.
The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority, and we work daily with local hospitals, primary care, emergency services, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and other provincial and federal partners in response to this new virus.
Stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including those in your home
Call Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 2 or your primary care provider's office if you experience symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, new cough or difficulty breathing
Call ahead before visiting any health care provider and let them know about your travel history and symptoms so they can ensure that they use proper infection control measures
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, encourages individuals who do not have symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus to wear non-medical masks when in public as an "additional measure" to protect other people during the pandemic. There's growing evidence that people infected with COVID-19 are able to transmit the virus before they develop symptoms.
Dr. Tam says (from a news conference on April 6, 2020) that, "Wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms, is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in public transit or maybe in the grocery store."
Dr. Tam urges Canadians to leave the supply of medical-grade masks for health care workers, which aligns with guidance from the World Health Organization, who also address the mask debate.
It's not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Preliminary information on COVID-19 suggests that the virus may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on:
Type of surface
Humidity of the environment
High touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitize. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Products shipped within or from outside of Canada could also be contaminated. However, because packages usually take days or weeks to be delivered, and are shipped at room temperature, the risk of spread is low. There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you restrict contact with pets and other animals while you're sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people.
Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it's still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you're sick.
If you're sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you're sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.
The only people in the household should be those who are responsible for providing care to the sick person.
People who are not taking care of the sick person should make arrangements to live somewhere else until the sick person is better. If this is not possible, other people in the home should stay in another room or be separated from the sick person.
Take care of yourself. Monitor yourself for any signs of illness, and separate yourself immediately if you're staring to feel sick with a fever, new cough or shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
If you begin having symptoms, contact your health care professional or Niagara Region Info-Line immediately at 905-688-8248 and press 7, then press 2.
Clean your hands often. Alcohol-based hand rub / sanitizer is preferred. However, plain soap and water is acceptable if alcohol-based hand rub isn't available. If hands are visibly soiled, clean them with plain soap and water immediately.
Wear personal protective equipment (PPE), gloves, mask and eye protection, while providing care or in the same room as the sick person
When you walk out of the sick persons' room, remove PPE in this order to reduce the risk of getting germs on your hands or face:
Remove gloves, wash your hands.
Remove eye protection
Remove your mask by holding only onto the ear loops or ties (do not touch the front of the mask that was over your face) and throw your used mask into a covered, plastic lined garbage can and wash your hands
Clean eye protection with a cleaner / disinfectant as per manufacturer's instructions or place into a container for later cleaning / disinfection
Faith-based observances, holidays and special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries and baby showers are usually a time to gather and spend time with family and friends. This year, everyone is urged to continue to follow federal, provincial and local orders as well as public health recommendations. Places of worship remain closed and all organized public events and gatherings of over five people are prohibited. This doesn't apply to private households that normally have five or more members living there.
We encourage you to connect with family, friends and neighbours either online or by phone. If you, or someone you know is feeling isolated, anxious or is in need of extra support, help is available. Are you planning a meal for members of your household? Continue to follow the general advice for grocery shopping during this time:
Try to shop once per week. Know what you need before going in, and don't casually browse or socialize with other shoppers.
Practice physical distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet apart) from other shoppers and grocery employees as much as possible
Look up store hours ahead of time as some stores are dedicating time to seniors, vulnerable persons and essential service workers (normally the first hour that stores are open)
Don't touch food or products you're not intending to buy and wash all produce when you get home
If possible, pay with a bank card or phone tap rather than cash
It's also a time to remember that with many businesses closed, some in our community are struggling without an income. Consider donating non-perishable food items to your local food bank.
As of March 28, 2020, the Ontario government, based on the best advice of Ontario's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people.
Organized public events include weddings, social gatherings and communal services within places of worship.
This order would not apply to private households with five people or more. It would also not apply to operating child care centres supporting frontline health care workers and first responders provided the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people.
Businesses play a critical role in protecting the health and safety of employees.
To help your business prepare and manage itself through COVID-19, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has developed a Pandemic Preparedness Guide. It contains best practice tools and resources that can be used to prepare your workplace.
We suggest you reply to visitors with the following: "I'm sorry but based on your answers, I'm not able to let you enter the building." You can then encourage them to call the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Info Line at 1-888-505-6074 or 905-688-8248 ext. 7019 or visit the Public Health webpage for more information.
If you returned to Canada after March 25, 2020, you're legally required to stay in self-isolation according to the Federal Quarantine Act.
If you're self-isolating and you have any (one or more) COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay home from work, school and public areas. Do not go for walks. Review the requirements for self-isolation.
If you're asked to self-isolate but you remain completely asymptomatic (without any COVID-19 symptoms), you may go for a walk. Always maintain physical distancing (2 metres apart from others) and do not interact with others
If you're not a returning traveller, have not been told to self-isolate and do not have any respiratory symptoms (such as fever, shortness of breath and / or new cough), you may go out for a walk. Always maintain physical distancing (2 metres apart from others) and do not interact with others.
Outdoor recreational amenities are closed, including:
If you're over 70 years of age or have underlying medical conditions and / or compromised immune systems, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends only leaving your home for essential reasons. This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.
If you returned to Canada after March 25, 2020, you're legally required to stay in self-isolation according to the Federal Quarantine Act
If you're self-isolating and you have any (one or more) of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, you must stay home and indoors. Don't go to school, work or any public areas, and do not go for a leisurely drive.
If you're asked to self-isolate but you remain completely asymptomatic (without any of the Novel Coronavirus symptoms):
You may take a leisurely drive, but you must not drive with anyone else except other members of the household.
If you stop and get out of the vehicle for any reason, always maintain physical distancing (2 metres apart from others) and do not engage in interactions with others.
Results posted by Niagara Health may differ from the results posted on our Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 webpage or posted by the Ontario Ministry of Health:
Due to the time of day when data is reported
Statistics reported by Niagara Health are for persons tested by Niagara Health. Their results do not include persons tested elsewhere in Niagara (for example through primary care) and may include persons who reside outside of Niagara
Niagara Region Public Health reports only results pertaining to Niagara residents
Ontario has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. By offering faster and secure access to test results on your computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so they can better focus on containing COVID-19. It can take up to approximately seven days to receive test results for COVID-19.
Niagara Region Public Health will follow-up with you only if you test positive for COVID-19.
Continue to self-isolate and a public health nurse will call you within 24 hours. If you need to speak to someone, call the COVID-19 Info-Line.
If you receive a negative test result
If you no longer have any respiratory symptoms and weren't required to self-isolate before developing symptoms (you haven't been told you're a contact of a confirmed case, nor have you recently travelled outside of the country), then you can go back to work.
If you receive an indeterminate result
Indeterminate results are not complete. Continue to check back in a day or two for your results.
We continue to encourage physical distancing, avoiding public places and self-monitoring for symptoms.
Niagara Region releases information to the public based on what's in the public interest to know their risk level, while balancing the need to protect the privacy of the clients we serve.
We can confirm that Niagara is now seeing COVID-19 cases in every municipality. It is important for all of us to continue to do our part to stop the spread. Consult how to protect yourself from COVID-19 for prevention information.
At this time, it's not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.
There's much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.