Public Health suggest several steps to stop spread of Coronavirus

The main office of Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health in Belleville, ON. (Google Images/Dave Dodgson/HPEPU staff)




As suspected cases are starting to emerge in the Quinte area including Prince Edward County, Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is working closely with Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health to monitor the coronavirus situation. They’re working proactively to prepare for any potential cases in our area, and protect our community.

The Coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has been spreading globally. 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, Chin that has not previously been known to infect humans.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected person, for example, in a household, workplace or health care setting, through respiratory secretions, i.e., a runny nose or saliva, and droplets present in the air from coughing or sneezing.

Transmission is thought to also occur through touching surfaces contaminated with respiratory droplets, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from mild cold-like symptoms to severe illness with fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

Possible symptoms include:

  • COVID-19 can cause illness ranging from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle ache, headache and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath).
  • Complications of COVID-19 include pneumonia, kidney failure, and in severe cases, death can be an outcome.
  • Information around incubation period and period of communicability are still emerging.
  • Currently, persons considering at most risk for novel coronavirus infection are:
    • Persons who become ill with fever and/or respiratory symptoms within 14 days of having visited Mainland China; or
    • Persons having been in close contact with someone who has a respiratory illness who has been to Mainland China within 14 days prior to their illness onset; or
    • Persons who become ill with fever and/or respiratory symptoms after being in close contact with a confirmed pr probable case of COVID-19
  • Beyond Mainland China some other countries have established local transmission (e.g. Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea). Johns Hopkins University has created a map tracking reported cases and deaths worldwide. Public Health recommends checking this map daily.
  • Some people such as the elderly and those who are immunocompromised may not develop a fever. For these individuals, the presence of new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing may be enough to trigger further precautions.

HPEPH is asking people who have travelled from China’s Hubei Province (including Wuhan) and Iran to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after their departure from the affected area and to call HPEPH at 613-966-5500 within 24 hours of arrival in Canada.

Quarantine means isolating someone who may have been exposed to a disease to prevent the spread of infection to others. If symptoms develop, they should stay away from others and call HPEPH or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

If symptoms are severe and you need to go to hospital by ambulance, call 911 and tell them about your travel history.

To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the common cold, influenza and COVID-19, KFL&A residents should follow usual health precautions.

There is no need to wear a mask if you are well. 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.

The best way to protect yourself from illnesses, including COVID-19 is to:

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm or a tissue and not into your hand
  • Avoid toughing your nose, mouth or eyes with your hands
  • Clean objects and surfaces that a lot of people touch such as door knobs, phones and television remotes with regular household cleaner
  • Get your influenza vaccine
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid contact with other people until symptoms are gone
  • Do not share personal items that come into contact with saliva such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, drinks, water bottles and towels

At this time there is no evidence of community spread in Ontario. Any person who is suspected of having the virus is immediately isolated and tested.

Close contact of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are monitored and isolated.

If you are feeling ill, call your health care provider in advance to let them know of your symptoms and any recent travel to COVID-19 affected areas. After hours, or if you do not have a health care provider call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000.

If you travelled to an affected area in the 14 days before you became sick you should call your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms. After hours, or if you do not have a health care provider contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

If you were in contact with someone who is ill, and they have travelled to an affected area within 14 days you should call your health care provider.

There are things you can do to prepare in case you or someone in your house becomes ill:

  • Stock up on non-perishable foods GRADUALLY over the next few weeks
  • Follow the three steps to emergency preparedness, know the risks, make a plan and get an emergency kit
  • Prepare an emergency kit and be prepared for two weeks should you become ill
  • Fill prescriptions and stock up on over-the-counter medications
  • Don’t wait to fill essential prescriptions
  • 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.
    • Purchase over-the-counter pain/fever medications.
  • Make plans for your children or other dependants 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

When to see a health care provider:

  • If you have fever, cough or shortness of breath, seek medical care through your health care provider or walk-in clinic, or if necessary, at the emergency department.
  • Visit the emergency department if you have severe symptoms of respiratory illness such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath when doing very little.
  • If you are seeking medical attention and are experiencing respiratory symptoms, put on a mask as soon as you arrive to help protect others.
  • If you seek medical attention, tell your health care provider if you have travelled outside of Canada recently.

COVID-19 is reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation. HPEPH should be notified regarding any individuals being tested for COVID-19. Laboratory confirmation is not required to report a suspected COVID-19 case.

If you suspect an individual may be infected with COVID-19, report the suspected case to HPEPH immediately by calling: 613-966-5500 (between 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Mon-Fri)