The health and safety of our clients, volunteers and staff is an ongoing priority at ESS. We are currently working with the Location Health Integration Network (LHIN) and Public Health on a daily basis to help prevent the potential exposure and transmission of COVID-19.
Persons most at risk are our vulnerable populations such as people with weakened immune systems, who are older in age or have a chronic disease. Awareness, education, standard infection control and recommended social distancing practices are important steps we can all take to do our part in reducing the risk of transmission and keeping these populations safe.
March 30, 2020: Chief Medical Officer of Health issues statement strongly encouraging individuals over 70 years of age to self-isolate
March 23, 2020: Government of Ontario News Release: Ontario Orders Mandatory Closure of all Non-Essential Workplaces – here is a list of essential workplaces
March 17, 2020 Government of Ontario News Release: Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public
March 12, 2020 Ministry of Health News Release: Enhanced Public Health Measures for COVID-19
COVID-19 Information and Safety Resources
Source: Ontario Ministry of Health (www.ontario.ca)
What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) causes a respiratory infection that originated in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.
Call 911 if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
- severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
- feeling confused or unsure of where you are
- losing consciousness
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
- cough that’s new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
- barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
- shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
- sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
- lost sense of taste or smell
- pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- headache that’s unusual or long lasting
- digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
- muscle aches
- extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
- falling down often
- for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite
If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19
If you begin to feel symptoms of COVID-19, you should:
- go to a COVID-19 assessment centre to get tested
- stay home and self-isolate unless you are going to the assessment centre
- tell people you were in close physical contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms began to monitor their health and to self-isolate
Only call 911 if it is an emergency.
Some groups are at higher risk of getting COVID-19. You may be in an at-risk group if you:
- are 70 years old or older
- are getting treatment that compromises (weakens) your immune system (for example, chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors)
- have a condition that compromises (weakens) your immune system (for example, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder)
- have a chronic (long-lasting) health condition (for example, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition)
- regularly go to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment (for example, dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment)
How to Protect Yourself and Others
COVID-19 is spread mainly from person to person through close physical contact.
Close physical contact means:
- being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area for over 15 minutes
- living in the same home
There is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19, but there are things you should do to help prevent it from spreading.
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 and self-isolate if you are sick
Everyone in Ontario should practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people — this means you should:
- stay home as much as possible – go grocery shopping once a week or less, only visit pharmacies and banks when necessary and place orders over the phone or online
- staying at least two metres away from anyone you do not live with
If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19
If you believe you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you should go to an assessment centre to get tested.
Other than going to the assessment centre, you should stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days. You could be carrying the virus without knowing it.
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 ride shares
- do not go to work, school or other public places
- your health care provider will tell you when it is safe to leave
- Limit the number of visitors in your home
- Avoid contact with others
- Keep distance
- 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)
- 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
Guide: How to self-isolate
Face coverings and face masks
The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.
It is recommended that you use a face covering (non-medical mask such as a cloth mask) to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 when physical distancing and keeping two-metres’ distance from others may be challenging or not possible. Note: It is now mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in public indoor places in the City of Toronto.
Learn about face coverings, including how to properly fit, wear, remove and clean your non-medical face mask.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources:
- COVID-19 self-assessment tool
- How to wash and sanitize your hands
- Guide: How to self-isolate
- Guide: How to self-monitor
- Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts
- Myths about the virus