What Toronto residents can do if they feel virus-like symptoms

Mar 16 2020, 2:54 pm

As COVID-19 cases begin to rise throughout the city, Toronto Public Health has highlighted several steps for people who feel they may have virus-like symptoms.

Health officials say that symptoms are very similar to the flu or a respiratory illness, which include a cough, fever, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.

Toronto Public Health’s website provides accessible information on symptoms of the virus, when to self-isolate and when to get tested.

However, the health agency also says, “if you are in close contact with someone who does not have COVID-19, but who was exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to take any precautions. You may continue with your regular routines and activities.”

The measures listed are specifically for individuals who believe they may have symptoms, have recently travelled, or have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Self-assessment tools

The health agency has asked for people who think they have coronavirus symptoms to remain at home and call their local public health unit.

On March 15, Toronto Public Health offered Toronto residents the Ontario Health self-assessment tool if individuals are showing symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Diagnosis and assessment Centres

According to Toronto health officials, coronavirus infections are diagnosed by healthcare providers based on symptoms and laboratory tests, with travel history taken into account — there is a specific test for COVID-19 to confirm the infection.
If someone thinks they have the virus, they can visit an assessment centre in the city.
Last week the province announced five new assessment centres at Brampton Civic Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, North York General Hospital, Mackenzie Health, Scarborough Health Network, and Trillium Health Partners.
On Friday, Michael Garron Hospital also opened an assessment centre, in order to increase the capacity to respond to individuals who are experiencing symptoms that could be related to the coronavirus.
Toronto Public Health emphasizes on their website that they are not an assessment centre, but testing is provided by their offices.
The public health agency also noted they are always informed of any potential cases and “immediately” follow up directly with individuals to let them know of their diagnosis.

When to self-isolate

Health officials say that if any individual experiences any of the symptoms listed they should self-isolate and call a local public health unit.

And, if travel outside of Canada, including to the US, has occurred, then residents must self-isolate for 14 days after travel as a precaution.

Toronto Public Health can be reached at 416-338-7600. The phone line is open from 8:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday, and is available between 10 am and 6 pm on weekends.

The province has provided a list of Ontario’s local public health units, so residents know who to contact.

According to Toronto Public Health, coronaviruses is defined as a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals.

There are strains of coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans and caused severe illnesses in humans in the past, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

As of March 16, there are 76 positive cases of coronavirus in Toronto.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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