About COVID-19

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that appeared first in Wuhan, China and has since had cases in many countries around the world. A novel coronavirus is one that has not been identified in humans before. It is being referred to as COVID-19 (as of February 11, 2020) and belongs to the coronavirus family, which cause a wide range of illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illnesses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. What does that mean?

  • As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic.
  • A pandemic describes an infectious disease where there is person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world.
  • The declaration of a pandemic does not change WDGPH’s response to COVID-19.
  • Ontario Public Health units, including Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, work very closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada and continue to monitor and assess the risk to Ontarians.

How many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ontario?

How many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in WDG?

Who can be tested and what are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the Ontario government, effective immediately (May 24, 2020), testing is available for the following populations:

  • Asymptomatic, risk-based testing:
    • People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
    • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).
  • Symptomatic testing: All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms. Please go to an assessment centre if you have at least one of the following symptoms:
    • fever 
    • new onset of cough 
    • difficulty breathing
    • chills
    • fatigue, malaise, myalgia (muscle aches)
    • headache
    • sore throat
    • runny, stuffy or congested nose
    • lost sense of smell or taste
    • pink eye
    • difficulty swallowing
    • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain) or
    • for young children and infants:
      • sluggishness or lack of appetite
      • multisystem inflammatory vasculitis
No referral is needed. You may go to any assessment centre to be tested. You will receive further instruction from the clinician at the assessment centre based on your individual assessment.

What is the incubation period before symptoms present?

  • The average incubation period is about 5 days. The incubation period varies and can be more or less than 5 days, however, evidence indicates it is less than 14 days. Symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing need to be considered in the context of whether you or someone you have been in close contact with has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • Originally, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reported a link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, person-to-person spread is how the virus is transmitted.
  • The science on the disease indicates it is spread through “droplet-and-contact” transmission – like the common cold or influenza.
  • The virus can live on hard surfaces for 2-3 days. The best advice in terms of prevention is to wash hands frequently and thoroughly, keep your hands away from your eyes and nose, and to wash and disinfect high-touch surfaces like phones, doorknobs and light switches.

Public Health Agency of Canada: Know the facts

Who is most at risk?

Those most at risk are:

  • People experiencing symptoms AND any international travel within 14 days of illness onset.
  • Close contact with someone who is ill and who has travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days. 
  • Based on reported cases, approximately 80 percent of people who get the virus have mild symptoms, 20 percent have more severe symptoms and 5 percent become critically ill.
    • The elderly (65+) and people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions are most at risk from getting a more critical case of the novel coronavirus.

Public Health Agency of Canada: People who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19

Who is considered a “close contact”?

A close contact is defined as a person who provided care for the patient, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact OR who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.

What is WDG Public Health’s role when we have confirmed cases of COVID-19?

  • When cases are confirmed, Public Health ensures each individual is isolated until well and follows up with any and all known close contacts of the person to determine if others need to isolate.
  • Tracing is also done to determine where they became ill and to determine what next steps are needed.

What is “community transmission”?

  • Community transmission occurs when people are become ill with COVID-19 without a link to travel or close contact with a person who has recently travelled.

Is there community transmission in our area?

  • COVID-19 is in our community, please stay home as much as possible.