Public Advisory

There is a Provincial Order in place, effective October 9th, 2020, mandating the use of face coverings in all public indoor settings across the province, such as businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions.  For details, visit the Face Masks and Face Coverings in Ontario. Also view the Grey Bruce Health Unit FAQ for Masks and Face Coverings.

I think I have COVID-19.  What do I do?

 

**If you are very ill and need medical help right away, go to the nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1.**

 

There are online and telephone resources set up to help guide you to further care and potential testing.  

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself within the home and use the self-assessment tool:  Ontario Ministry of Health Self-Assessment Tool

 

Testing for COVID-19 is available for those who:

  • Have at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptom 
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as identified and informed by their public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID-19 app
  • Are a resident or worker in a setting that has COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by their local public health unit
  • Are eligible for testing as part of targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Long-term Care. 

 

COVID-19 ASSESSMENTS CENTRE information and locations in Grey Bruce 

 

Find a Testing Site in Ontario

 

Use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment for a recommendation on what to do next. 

 

Note: Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.

 

Have questions?  Who can you call?

  • Your healthcare provider. 
  • Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit at 519-376-9420 Extension 3000 or 1-800-263-3456 Extension 3000.

 

Self-isolation is for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or anyone who has been instructed to separate yourself from others to help prevent the spread of the virus. Self-isolation when you are sick means that you do not leave your home unless absolutely necessary, such as to see medical care.

  • Stay in your home
  • Seek services over the phone or online and ask for help from others if needed.
  • Order grocery or pharmacy delivery or have a friend, family member or neighbour deliver them (register at www.thedo.ca for volunteer help or call 211)
  • Open a window for fresh air
  • Use the phone or internet to connect with family or friends

 

What not to do while self-isolating:

  • No visitors (only those essential and for medical reasons)
  • No grocery shopping in the store
  • No going to work or other activities
  • No going for a walk outside

 

Who should self-isolate?

Take the COVID-19 self-assessment online or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000 for more information about who should self-isolate.  Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild, should self-isolate immediately

People who should self-isolate include:

  • People who have travelled internationally in the past 14 days
  • Those who have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • People experiencing symptoms
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • People with a chronic health condition
  • Older adults 70 years of age and older

 

Resources:

 

Take the COVID-19 self-assessment online to help determine how to seek further care and next steps. You can also call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.

 

Physical Activity and Self-Isolation 

If you are a confirmed positive case for COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please self-isolate indoors and open a window for fresh air. Even with mild symptoms, self-isolate indoors.

 

While in self-isolation, it is still just as important as ever to keep physically active for maintaining both physical and mental well-being. There are plenty of physical activities that can be done around the home. Some ideas include:

  • Online exercise classes
  • Jump rope
  • Stair stepping
  • Planking
  • Lunges
  • Cleaning
  • Weight lifting

 

Please visit WHO – Stay Physically Active During Quarantine for more ideas.

 

Resources:

Active for Life – 200 Activities You Can do with Kids at Home

Finding Balance – Exercises at the Kitchen Sink

Fact Sheet - COVID-19: Delivering items to someone in self-isolation who is potentially or confirmed infected with COVID-19

Public health direction to self-monitor for COVID-19 means that you should monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for 14 days after being in a situation where you may have come in contact with the virus.

 

How to self-monitor (Public Health Ontario)

Appointments are now required at COVID-19 Assessment Centres and participating pharmacies.

 

Note: If you are very ill, go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1. 

 

*Check your symptoms here: COVID-19 Self-Assessment and know How to Isolate if you have symptoms.

 

Who should visit an Assessment Centre? 

  • You have at least one sign or symptom of COVID-19; or
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as identified and informed by your public health unit; or
  • You received a notification of exposure through the COVID-19 alert app; or
  • You are a resident or worker in a setting that has COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by the local public health unit; or
  • You are eligible for testing as part of targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Long-term Care (i.e required for surgery or visiting a long-term care home)

 

How to find an Assessment or Testing Site:

 

COVID-19 ASSESSMENTS CENTRE locations in Grey Bruce  

 

There are four Assessment Centres in Grey Bruce (Owen Sound, Southampton, Kincardine and Hanover).  If you are unable to get to an assessment centre, call the Grey Bruce Health Unit at 519-376-9420 Ext 3000.

 

Find a testing site in Ontario

It takes about 4 to 5 days to get test results.  You may be asked to self-isolate while you wait for your results. 

 

Positive COVID-19 test results - Individuals are contacted by their local Public Health Unit.  The Grey Bruce Health Unit will continue to contact all Grey Bruce residents whose results indicate positive. Further direction for self-isolation will be provided and contact tracing will be required of those individuals. If your family doctor ordered the test, they may also call you with the positive results.

 

Negative COVID-19 test results - Beginning April 20, individuals who test negative will not be contacted directly by the Grey Bruce Health Unit.  

 

How to get your test results:

Results for those tested for COVID-19 are available through a provincial online portal. You will need a photo health card and personal details to log in. To allow for processing, check the online portal about 5 days after the test swab has been taken.

 

Those who do not have access to the online portal should wait about 5 days after the test swab has been taken and then call the Grey Bruce Health Unit at 1-800-263-3456 Extension 3000. If your family doctor ordered the test, you can also call them for your results.

If you have trouble breathing or if your symptoms get worse suddenly, you should go to the hospital.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain

 

Call your local emergency department to let them know that you are planning to come to the Emergency Room and you have symptoms of COVID-19.

At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 or any natural health products that are authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19. Any new treatments or vaccines must be approved by Health Canada.

Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

Some general recommendations to help fight COVID-19 illness include:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

 

 

COVID-19 Contact Tracing - More than a Phone Call

 

Investigations are private, thorough, professional, and efficient. 

A positive test result for COVID-19 can be a daunting diagnosis for anyone.

A positive test result triggers Public Health investigations related to Case Management, Contact Management, and Outbreak Management. Each one of these different types of investigations includes a group of complex protocols. The Infectious Diseases Team at the Grey Bruce Health Unit helps clients with their diagnosis and case management. However, the Public Health investigative effort does not stop there; it continues under a set of robust protocols that ensure appropriate navigation through a series of complex tasks. The activities can include medical, legal, ethical, social, and technical aspects, among others. All of this is done under a formal investigation and with the utmost care and support for the client.

 

Receiving positive COVID Results

The Infectious Diseases (ID) Team at the Grey Bruce Health Unit investigates to follow up with every positive COVID-19 case and many presumptive, indeterminate, and sometimes negative cases.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Team automatically receives the result as every lab in Ontario is mandated by law to report the results to the local Medical Officer of Health. The ID Team follows-up immediately to prevent any further transmission of the virus, providing medical advice and support to the client while also addressing the public's potential risk. 

Throughout the investigation, each interaction with a positive case must be professional, friendly, and firm when needed. We are managing a significant transmissible illness and need to convey the gravity of the situation to those that may not understand or share the required level of concern. With our initial and subsequent contacts, we seek to gain trust and understanding from the client. Trust is something that takes time and develops over days and weeks of daily calls. Our approach is to support the client with as much knowledge as possible to ensure a successful recovery and prevention of transmission.

We also have to ensure that the information they provide is reliable, and they comply with any requirements for isolation. For example, some clients may have memory disorders that make this task more challenging.

 

COVID Investigation Interviews

The investigation consists of multiple interviews with cases and contacts. From our interviews with positive clients, we build a list of all close contacts.

The interview is structured to help people recall and share all details about movement and contact they have had with others – this is called contact tracing. We conduct interviews with these contacts as well. We do daily calls to all active, positive clients and contacts connected to the case. Through this ongoing exchange, we confirm the reliability of information from the client and contacts, and work with them to control the further potential spread of the virus. We have made thousands of calls since March to manage cases and contacts.

Isolation for those that test positive and their close contact(s) is critical to the success of limiting further spread.

In rare cases, when cases and contacts do not follow the isolation orders, we will adopt additional measures to ensure the individuals understand the seriousness of the situation. Follow-up on those who fail to comply with isolation orders may involve sending our staff or collaborating with the police to ensure compliance with an isolation order. This level of follow-up has been needed only in a small number of cases. Most people understand the situation and fully comply, recognizing that we are there to support them and their contacts.

 

Other challenges include equity and access. As some clients may not have access to a phone, we provide cell phones to positive cases and their contacts during the isolation period. Utilizing language interpretation through Public Health Ontario has helped address challenges related to language barriers in some cases. Both of these strategies proved successful when working with a group of migrant farmworker cases and case contacts. Another challenge is the sheer number of required calls and interviews within the narrow window of time. The provincial target for health units is to follow-up with 90% of cases within 24 hours. To date, we have been able to maintain the track record of follow-up within 24 hours in 100% of cases.

 

Privacy

Living in small rural settings makes privacy that much more critical. We treat all cases and contacts with the utmost confidentiality. Names are never shared, and exact locations of positive cases are not made public to protect the client's identity. The Team does a thorough investigation and manage all contacts, independent of each other. Clients that test positive have no requirement to tell anyone of their diagnosis. When we call contacts, we only disclose that "you have been exposed to a COVID-19 case", we do not name the case. Unless individuals choose to disclose their status (case vs contact) to others, no one else will know their status. Although we operate in the public arena, we are legally bound to maintain strict privacy.

 

Workplaces

In addition to supporting individuals and preventing transmissions of the virus in the community, the investigations also support workplaces and prevent transmission and outbreaks in these occupational settings. Examples of these workplaces or organizations include big-box retail outlets, restaurants, factory settings, farms, clinics, and hospitals, etc. While the Ministry of Labour remains responsible for workplace safety and occupational illnesses, Public Health manages infectious disease cases and outbreaks in these facilities. During the investigation of every case, we evaluate the risk of transmission in the case's workplace. We manage cases and contacts related to these occupational settings. With all local cases so far, we have successfully ensured that no transmission of COVID-19 has occurred to co-workers or customers.

Depending on the complexity of the investigation, we sometimes call on the collaboration of the employer. At times, employers in their efforts to go above and beyond, act without Public Health direction. Although sometimes beneficial, actions that fall outside of those supported by Public Health can sometimes cause undue fear and stress in the population. We urge collaboration in these situations to ensure a consistent and united approach while containing the virus.

Notably, the Infectious Disease Team's efforts are mirrored by parallel efforts related to communication to partner organizations, agencies, and the public.

 

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