About the virus

COVID-19 is a new virus. It spreads by respiratory droplets of an infected person to others with whom they have close contact such as people who live in the same household or provide care.

You can also access up to date information on COVID-19 on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website: ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Return to Work Information

Members who are self-isolating due to recent travel, should continue to self-isolate for 14 days from their return to Canada. During self-isolation, you need to be vigilant in taking actions to protect yourself through cleaning and social distancing measures. The purpose of self-isolation as it relates to COVID-19 is to ensure that members do not develop symptoms either post-travel or after being in close contact with someone who is positive/suspected of having COVID-19 related illness.

If you have returned from travel, but did not self-isolate based on prior recommendations, you are being asked to complete a self-isolation for the remainder of 14 days from when you returned to Canada.

If you have no symptoms (you are not ill) at the end of the 14 day self-isolation period, you may return to work.

If you develop symptoms during the self-isolation period, you are encouraged to link in with your physician, Telehealth or Public Health. You should not be returning to work until you have been asymptomatic (no symptoms) for 24 hours.

Based on the current medical recommendations for those with COVID-19-related symptoms, once you have been asymptomatic (no symptoms) for 24 hours, you may return to work. This may occur prior to the end of the 14 day period or it may take longer than the 14 day period.

When you have symptoms, you will be coded as being on sick leave, dependent upon the severity of your symptoms and the availability of alternate work arrangements. If you have no sick leave/attendance credits to use, please work with your manager to determine how your leave will be handled.

In cases where there may be uncertainty with regard to medical clearance for return to work, the OPP physician, Dr. Andrew Reed, can be engaged.

How to protect yourself

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses.

Everyday actions

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick

Social distancing

  • Everyone in Ontario should be practicing social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people.
  • Everyone in Ontario should do their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. Close contact includes being within two meters of another person.
  • If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you should begin to self-monitor for a period of 14 days. This means that, in addition to social distancing, you should track how you feel. You should take your temperature daily and log any other symptoms that develop (e.g., sore throat, new cough). You can share these records with your primary care provider over the phone if you seek assessment services.

What should you do if you develop these or any other symptoms?

Self-isolate immediately and contact your public health unit and your health care provider.

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community.

All persons over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.

When self-isolating you should:

Stay home

  • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares
  • Do not go to work, school or other public places
  • Your health care provider or public health unit will tell you when it is safe to leave

Limit the number of visitors in your home

  • Only have visitors who you must see and keep the visits short
  • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, lung problems, immune deficiency)

Avoid contact with others

  • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one
  • Make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (e.g. open windows)

Keep distance

  • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you

Cover your coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand
  • Throw used tissues in a waste basket lined with a plastic bag for easy and safe disposal, and wash your hands
  • After emptying the wastebasket, wash your hands

Wash your hands

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth

  • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider
  • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people