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Frequently asked questions related to COVID-19

The information on this website will be updated frequently as new guidance and recommendations become available on COVID-19.

This page was last updated 07/09/2020

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the “common cold” or more severe illnesses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered in 2019.



How does it spread?

COVID-19 spreads through droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes. Through these virus-laden droplets, it can spread to people who you spend a lot of time with (i.e. close contacts) such as household members – similar to how the flu and other respiratory illnesses spread.

If someone with COVID-19 coughs on a surface, and you touch the surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose with an unwashed hand, the virus could infect you. It may survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface might have come into contact with COVID-19, clean it with disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Also, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Apply an alcohol-based sanitizer (minimum 60% alcohol) if water and soap is not available to wash hands.


What are the symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms will be different from person to person. Symptoms can also vary depending on age group.

For a complete list of symptoms, please visit  Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms


How do I know if I am at higher risk of getting COVID-19?

Your risk of getting infected with COVID-19 increases if you are in the following situations:

  • Travelled to an affected area in the last 14 days.
  • In close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • Someone with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease.
  • 65 years of age or older.
  • Lived in or worked in a facility known to be experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. Some examples may include:
    • Hospital inpatient
    • Resident of long-term care home/retirement home
    • Health care worker and persons living in the same household
    • First responder and persons living in the same household
    • Living in a migrant farm setting with a worker who has COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Childcare centre


How do I know if have COVID-19 symptoms?

The Ontario Government developed this online self-assessment tool for COVID-19 symptoms. Visit


How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

The Government of Canada advises that symptoms can take up to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

In children, symptoms may include abdominal or skin changes or rashes. Evidence also shows that the virus can be present in individuals even if they don’t show any symptoms. As we are still trying to understand how COVID-19 spreads it is important to practice physical distancing even if someone is not showing any symptoms yet.


What should I do if I’m sick?

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Most individuals who get infected will recover on their own.


How do I self-monitor for COVID-19 Symptoms?

To self-monitor,  follow our guidelines.


How do I self-isolate if symptoms appear?

To self-isolate follow our guidelines.

You can also call our COVID-19 hotline, 519-426-6170 Ext. 9999 for more information.


How will I know if a case is confirmed in Haldimand or Norfolk?

If a suspected case is confirmed in Haldimand or Norfolk, a media release will be issued within 24 hours to notify the public and health care professionals. The information released will only provide details about the setting where the outbreak or confirmed case has occurred with no personal information about the individual.

If you were identified as a close contact to the positive case(s), you will be notified by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit directly.


Where can I find quality and updated information about COVID-19?

Here are some websites you can visit for the most updated information about COVID-19.


Is travel outside Canada permitted?

As of March 14, 2020, the Government of Canada has advised Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad and on cruise ships until further notice. Visit the Government of Canada site for recent updates on travel advisories.


What should I do if I have recently travelled to another country?

Anyone who has travelled outside the country is required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days upon returning to Canada after international travel.

If you start developing symptoms call the health unit hotline at 519-426-6170 Ext 9999 and notify your healthcare provider before visiting the healthcare facility.


What does physical distancing mean?

Physical distancing means keeping space between you and other people. The recommended guideline for physical distancing is 2 meters or 6 feet apart from anyone you don’t live with. Two meters can look like;

  • An arm span of an average adult
  • 2 yard sticks
  • A bench in the park


How can I protect myself from the COVID-19 virus?

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • For shopping, use curbside pickup or get items delivered to your house
  • Avoid public spaces with large crowds of more than 10 people.
  • When out for walk or exercise, try to avoid busy sidewalks.
  • While out for groceries
    • Avoid shopping during peak times.
    • If an aisle is crowded just wait and come back.
    • At checkout, keep a 2 m distance from others.
  • You can stay social using social media, phone, or meet outside in an open space.
  • During the day wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 sec.
  • Make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a mask in public places.


Is wearing a mask in public recommended?

Ontario has included mask use in the Reopening Ontario Act , 2020.

Mask use is mandatory for every individual who is in an enclosed area of a space that members of the public has access to.  Masks are also mandatory for every enclosed area of a workplace or organization where employees cannot maintain 2 metres physical distance.

For more information please visit:

How do I wear a mask properly?

  • Before putting on your mask, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based (minimum 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer.
  • Secure the elastic loops of the mask around your ears. If your mask has strings, tie them securely behind your head.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Do not touch the front of the mask while you wear it. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you accidentally touch your mask.


For more information, visit the following sites .

Non-Medical Masks and Face Coverings – Government of Canada
When and How to Wear a Mask – Public Health Ontario


What is the proper hand washing technique?

Washing your hands is the most effective way you can protect yourself and others from COVID-19. We suggest that you wash your hands often for at least 20 secs. Visit this link site to watch a video on hand washing.


How do I prepare for COVID-19 if someone becomes ill?

Some ways to prepare yourself and your family are to purchase essential supplies, make alternative arrangements for care, reduce exposure when outside, communicate a plan with your family, and stay informed about COVID-19. Visit this link to learn more.


What is a COVID-19 test?

A COVID-19 test is done to confirm if you have the virus or not. A health care provider swabs your nose and throat using a test kit. When you call the HNHU, a nurse screens you to determine if you meet the criteria to be tested.


Do antibiotics prevent or treat COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.


Can I visit a long-term care home?

Visiting restrictions have been placed on all long-term care home (LTCH) and residence facilities in Haldimand and Norfolk counties. This is because the virus can spread easily in elderly who have severe health conditions.

Only essential visitors are permitted to enter long-term care homes until further notice. Essential visitors as those who are visiting very ill or palliative residents, or those providing essential services for the resident (i.e. food delivery, health care, maintenance etc.)


What are some safety measures taken during my visit at a long-term care home?

Visitors are screened when entering the facility and must wear a mask during the visit. Family members are encouraged to use other means to stay connected with loved ones using social media i.e. Facebook, e-mail.


How do I keep my workplace safe as an employer?

We recommend that all businesses incorporate the minimum infection control standards in their daily business practices and service delivery. Click on this link for more details on operating your business safely.


Who should I call about inquires related to my workplace?

Call the Environmental Health Team hotline at 519-426-6128 for all COVID-19 inquiries related to or regarding Food Premises, Migrant Farms, Special Events, Personal Service Settings, Child Care Centres or Workplaces that are not part of a healthcare setting.