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This page includes the latest information and guidance from Halton Region Public Health, the provincial and federal governments on COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, testing and self-isolation.

Symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms (even if mild) associated with COVID-19 (external link) you must self-isolate (external PDF), regardless of your vaccination status. Assume that you may have the virus and may be contagious.

To learn what to do next, use the self-assessment tool. Choose the one that best applies to you:

Visit Ontario.ca/exposed (external link) for any additional information.

Important:

  • If you are experiencing severe symptoms (trouble breathing or chest pain), please go to your nearest Emergency Department or call 911.
  • Use Ontario’s antiviral screener tool (external link) or speak to your health care provider to find out if you are eligible for COVID-19 antiviral treatments.

Exposure to COVID-19

If you live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to isolate if you:

  • have tested positive in the last 90 days and do not have symptoms;
  • are over 18 years of age and have received a COVID-19 booster dose; or
  • are under 18 years of age and are fully vaccinated (external PDF).

Instead, for 10 days after exposure:

  • self-monitor for symptoms (external link). If you develop symptoms, get tested if you are eligible and self-isolate immediately. If more than one household members have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to self-isolate from each other. For more information on testing, including eligibility and results, visit the Testing for COVID-19 section on this page.
  • wear a mask and avoid activities where mask removal would be necessary; and
  • do not visit anyone who is at higher risk of illness, such as seniors, or any highest risk settings (unless you previously tested positive in past 90 days).

If you do not meet any of the criteria above, you must isolate while the person with symptoms/positive test result isolates (or for 10 days if you are immunocompromised).

If you have been exposed to someone from another household with symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test results, you must do the following for the 10 days following your last exposure:

  • self-monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, get tested if you are eligible and self-isolate immediately;
  • wear a mask, avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (such as dining out, high contact sports) and follow all other public health measures if leaving home; and
  • do not visit any highest-risk settings (such as long-term care or retirement homes) or people who may be at higher risk of illness (such as seniors).

Highest-risk settings include:

  • hospitals (including complex continuing care facilities);
  • congregate living settings with medically and socially vulnerable individuals, including but not limited to long-term care homes, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, correctional institutions, and hospital schools; and
  • international agricultural workers.

If you live, work, attend, volunteer, or have been admitted in one of these highest-risk settings you are required to:

  • tell staff at the setting that you have been exposed; and
  • avoid going there for 10 days from your last exposure, unless you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have no symptoms.

To help ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings may be asked to return to work earlier than 10 days, with additional precautions such as testing. Speak with your employer for more information.

Testing for COVID-19

Milton COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic (CCFCC) (external link)

This clinic is for individuals who:

Symptoms of COVID and the flu are very similar

Knowing when you should go to an Assessment Centre for a COVID test or to a COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic to help diagnose your symptoms will help you get the right care, in the right place.

Currently there is only one clinical assessment center in Halton. Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms and cannot access a family physician can visit care-clinics.ca (external link) to book an appointment for assessment at the Milton COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic. A complete list of clinical assessment centres in Halton and across Ontario can be found on the Provincial website (external link).

If you require a test for outbound international travel, private COVID-19 tests are available for purchase throughout Ontario.

Halton Region Public Health does not have a role in actions associated with Testing and Quarantine requirements for Travel. This falls under federal jurisdiction. Please visit the Government of Canada COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders webpage for current information (external link).

If you have additional questions, please contact the Public Health Agency COVID-19 information line (external link) directly at 1-833-784-4397. Hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to midnight. Interpretation services are available in 200+ languages.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR testing) is available only to people in certain groups. Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 clinical assessments and testing webpage (external link) to find out who is eligible for PCR testing. Individuals eligible for COVID-19 antivirals are also eligible for PCR test (external link).

Members of the general public with mild symptoms should use a rapid antigen test (RAT). If you test positive on a RAT, it is highly likely that you have COVID-19. You do not need a PCR test to confirm the result.

If you’re eligible for a PCR test, you can book your appointment at a testing location near you (external link). Anyone who does not meet the eligibility criteria may be turned away if they do not qualify.

There is no clinical assessment available at the testing sites in Halton. If you want to be assessed for your symptoms, then visit your primary care physician or go to a clinical assessment center (CAC). Find a list of PCR testing sites and clinic assessment centers here (external link).

Halton Region Paramedics will only provide in-home PCR testing to palliative patients, due to changes to COVID-19 testing criteria, isolation guidelines, and the availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). Eligible residents should speak to their health care provider for a referral for in-home COVID-19 testing.

While waiting for a PCR test result, isolate from others if you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or a known exposure to COVID-19. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed (external link) and complete the COVID-19 self-assessment (external link) for further instructions.

Access COVID-19 test results online by visiting covid-19.ontario.ca (external link) and selecting “Check your results”. You will need either the Ontario health card you used to take your test, or a label with a medical record number (MRN) and verification code. If you cannot access test results through this site, please contact the testing location or your health care provider.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are being used for routine screen testing, for those with symptoms and for “test-to-work” purposes. RATs should not be relied on as a way to determine whether to attend social activities. Instead, individuals should follow existing public health measures, regardless of RAT use.

People with symptoms

If you have symptoms and are not eligible for PCR or molecular point-of-care testing, use a rapid antigen test if you have access to one. If you have symptoms and test positive on a RAT, it is highly likely that you have COVID-19. A confirmatory PCR test is not required.

If you test negative on a RAT and still have symptoms, stay in isolation and complete a second RAT 24-48 hours later. If both RATs are negative, then it is unlikely you have COVID-19. You can end self-isolation when your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms) and if you haven’t been isolating due to an exposure to COVID-19. Your household members may also discontinue self-isolation, as long as they don’t have symptoms and have not tested positive.

People without symptoms

Be aware that RATs have a low sensitivity for COVID-19 in people who do not have symptoms (“asymptomatic”). This means that a negative result could be a false negative in asymptomatic individuals.

Test-to-work (work self-isolation)

Rapid antigen tests used for test-to-work can support work self-isolation and meet critical workforce needs for health care workers. Rapid antigen tests can be used to support daily screening during work self-isolation. Ask your employer for more details on work-self isolation.

Depending on supply, RATs are available free of charge through the following locations:

If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR or RAT test you must self-isolate:

  • for at least five days after you tested positive or your symptoms started (whichever is earlier) if you are fully vaccinated (external PDF) or are under 12 years of age.
  • for at least 10 days after you tested positive or your symptoms started (whichever is earlier) if you are over the age of 12 and not fully vaccinated, are immunocompromised, or live in a highest risk setting (external PDF).

Those with a 5 day self-isolation period are not required to test again on day 5. However, if you choose to re-test and are positive on day 5 you may still be infectious and it is recommended that you extend your self-isolation period to a total of 10 days. If you have access to additional tests you can end your extended self-isolation period after one negative PCR or two negative RATs separated by 24-48 hours.

You are not required to continue self-isolation past 10 days if you do not have a fever and symptoms have been improving for 24 hours or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms. It is important to maintain masking, physical distancing and adherence to all other public health measures if leaving home, following isolation. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed (external link) for more information on what to do after you finish isolating.

Inform all of your household members and social contacts as soon as possible. To find out if they need to self-isolate, visit the Exposure to COVID-19 section of this page. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed (external link) for more information.

If you tested positive using a RAT test you do not need a PCR test to confirm that you are positive for most settings. You do not need to report your test results to Halton Region Public Health.

In certain situations, you may be contacted by public health. If you are contacted by public health, follow the instructions that are provided to you.

Self-isolation

For information on how to self-isolate please visit the following links:

Travellers entering or returning to Canada

You are NOT required to provide a negative test result in order to return to work, school, child care or other activities after you have completed you isolation period.

A person can return to work, school or child care if:

  • They have completed the recommended self-isolation period;
  • Their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms); and
  • They do not have a fever.

For individuals who have a 5 day isolation period, there is no requirement to repeat testing at the end of their isolation period. After day 5 and until day 10, they must wear a mask, avoid activities where mask removal is required (for example, dining out) and not visit high risk settings. However, if a person choses to re-test and is positive on day 5, they may still be infectious and it is recommended that they extend their isolation period to 10 days. If they have access to additional tests, the person may discontinue their extended self-isolation period prior to 10 days after one negative PCR or two negative RATs collected 24 hours apart. There is no requirement to continue self-isolation past 10 days, so long as they do not have a fever and symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms).

Those already completing a 10 day isolation period (e.g. not fully immunized or immunocompromised) are not required to extend their isolation past 10 days, so long as they do not have a fever and symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms).

It is important to maintain masking, physical distancing and adherence to all other public health measures if leaving home, following self-isolation.

After completing self-isolation, regularly follow these tips for cleaning and disinfecting (external link) to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in your home.

If a child or a person who needs support with daily living (such as bathing, feeding, clothing) has COVID-19 or was exposed to COVID-19, parents and caregivers should continue providing care and support to them, but should follow additional measures to protect themselves and others in the home.

For more information, review:

Coping with or caring for a child with symptoms of COVID-19 can be stressful. It is important to closely monitor your child. Learn more about caring for a child with COVID-19 through the Hospital for Sick Children’s COVID-19 Learning Hub (external link).

You should go to a hospital right away if your child shows the following signs and symptoms:

  • Persistent fever (3 days or longer)
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish color around the lips or on skin
  • Unable to drink enough fluids or signs of dehydration (e.g. not making tears when crying, urinating less than usual)
  • Unable to wake up or interact
  • Being irritable (e.g. not wanting to be held)

Testing, exposure and isolation questions

To get the latest information on what you need to do to protect yourself and others please go to ontario.ca/exposed (external link). For questions related to COVID-19 testing and self-isolation, call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Line at 1-888-777-0730, available Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Masks

Effective June 11, 2022, the Province removed the mandatory masking requirements for most settings (external link).

Dr. Meghani, Halton’s Medical Officer of Health, strongly recommends Halton residents to continue wearing high quality masks in indoor settings where physical distancing may be a challenge.

Wearing a mask continues to be an effective public health measure for reducing the spread of COVID-19. The risk of infection and severe disease is greater for some individuals than others, including those who are immunocompromised, those with underlying health conditions and older adults. Wear a mask where necessary to protect yourself and others.

Masks are still required in the following settings:

Individuals must continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings for a total of 10 days (or 20 days for immunocompromised individuals) after symptom onset (or date of test, whichever is earlier). For more information, visit ontario.ca/exposed (external link).

If self-isolation is complete after 5 days, or if self-isolation is not required, for a total of 10 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive for COVID-19, ALL household members and other contacts must continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings. For more information, visit ontario.ca/exposed (external link).

When wearing a mask, be sure to wear one that is well-fitted, well-constructed and fully covers your nose, mouth and chin with no gaps. Medical masks or a non-fit tested respirator (N95s, KN95s) are preferred, but a cloth mask that has at least 3 layers (e.g. two cloth layers with a filter in between) is also acceptable.

Health Canada recommendations regarding COVID-19 mask use:

Public Health Ontario recommendations regarding COVID-19 mask use:

Guidance for congregate care settings

Congregate living settings include a range of facilities where people live or stay overnight and use shared spaces, such as shelters, group homes, children or youth residential settings and retirement homes. Read the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidance: congregate living for vulnerable populations (PDF file) for information related to case and contact managements, testing and isolation requirements and other guidance.

Read the COVID-19 guidelines and the interim direction for MCCSS-funded and licensed congregate living settings (external link).

For COVID-19 information for administration and staff of Long-term care and retirement homes, visit Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes - Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC).

Infection Prevention and Control

Hands can carry and spread germs. Maintaining good hand hygiene is an important step to reduce the risk of becoming infected with, or spreading COVID-19.

Hand hygiene means washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Physical distancing means staying two metres (six feet) from people outside of your household whenever possible. You do not need to physically distance from people in your immediate household. However, this may change if you or they are in isolation.

Physical distancing can slow the spread of COVID-19 by stopping the chain of transmission.

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