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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 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 the Province’s public health measures and advice webpage (external link) for additional information.

Important:

Exposure to COVID-19

If you have been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, 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 well-fitted mask in all public settings, avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (such as dining out, high contact sports) and follow all other public health measures if leaving home.
  • 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:

  • acute care settings such as 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
  • employer-provided living settings of international agricultural workers.

If you work in one of these highest risk settings you should:

  • speak with your employer to report the exposure and follow workplace guidance for return to work;
  • self-monitor for symptoms for a total of 10 days after the last exposure; and
  • self-isolate immediately if you develop any symptom of COVID-19 and seek testing if eligible.

To help ensure sufficient staffing levels, workers in these settings may be asked to return to work immediately with additional precautions such as testing. For more information, speak with your employer.

If you live in or have been admitted to one of these highest risk settings you should:

  • self-monitor for symptoms for a total of 10 days after the last exposure;
  • self-isolate immediately if you develop any symptom of COVID-19 and seek testing if eligible; and
  • you may be required to isolate following a high-risk exposure. Follow the direction from Public Health or the hospital IPAC team for hospitalized patients.

Testing for COVID-19

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 testing and treatment webpage to find out who is eligible for PCR testing (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. Visit the Province’s public health measures and advice webpage (external link) and complete the COVID-19 self-assessment (external link) for further instructions.

To access COVID-19 test results online (external link) 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) 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 and self-isolate if experiencing symptoms.

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.

Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms who use RATs should be aware that they may produce false negative results (that is, testing negative but still being infected), particularly early in COVID-19 infection. If you repeat testing at least 24-48 hours after your first negative test and test negative again, you can be more confident in your negative status.

Symptomatic individuals who may be eligible for treatment (external link) and have an initial negative RAT result are strongly recommended to seek PCR or molecular point-of-care testing as soon as possible given the time frame for receiving therapeutics.

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.

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

  1. If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR or RAT test and (a.) are residing in a high risk setting (external PDF) OR (b.) are hospitalized for COVID-19 related illness (not requiring ICU level of care) OR (c.) are immunocompromised (external PDF):
    • you must self-isolate for at least 10 days after you tested positive or your symptoms started (whichever is earlier); and
    • your isolation period may be modified depending on setting-specific guidance provided in highest risk settings.
  2. If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR or RAT test, have COVID-19 symptoms and do not meet the criteria described above (see #1):
    • you must self-isolate until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever present.
  3. If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR or RAT test, do not have COVID-19 symptoms and do not meet the criteria described above (see #1):
    • you do not need to self-isolate unless symptoms develop. If symptoms develop, self-isolate immediately.

Inform all of your household members and social contacts as soon as possible. Visit the Exposure to COVID-19 section of this page and the Province’s public health measures and advice webpage (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 your isolation period.

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

  • They have completed the recommended self-isolation period as applicable;
  • 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 must self-isolate until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever present OR for individuals who do not have symptoms and do not need to self-isolate unless symptoms develop:

  • for a total of 10 days after you tested positive or your symptoms started (whichever is earlier):
    • continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools and childcare, unless under 2 years old) and avoid non-essential activities where mask removal is necessary (e.g., dining out, playing a wind instrument, high contact sports where masks cannot be safely worn);
    • do not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (e.g., seniors); and
    • avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

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 the Province’s public health measures and advice webpage (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

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:

After your self-isolation period is complete (if applicable), you must continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings for a total of 10 days after symptom onset (or date of test, whichever is earlier). For more information, visit the Province’s public health measures and advice webpage (external link).

For a total of 10 days after the last exposure to the COVID-19 positive case or individual with COVID-19 symptoms, close contacts should wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings:

  • Maintain masking as much as possible in public settings (including school and child care, unless under 2 years old). Reasonable exceptions include removal of mask for essential activities like eating, while maintaining as much distancing as possible;
  • Participation in activities where masking can be maintained throughout may be resumed, but individuals should avoid activities where mask removal would be necessary (e.g., dining out; playing a wind instrument; high contact sports where masks cannot be safely worn); and
  • Individuals who are unable to mask (e.g., children under 2 years of age, etc.) may return to public settings without masking.

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. Visit the Ministry of Health’s Guidance for the Health Sector webpage (external link) for information related to case and contact management, testing and isolation requirements and other guidance.

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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