Main Page Content

Families

No. Children are not at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. The majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in adults.

Symptoms in children are generally mild; however, children with serious underlying conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Until more is known, parents are advised to call their health care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit @ 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 if their child is showing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults; however, children may experience atypical symptoms/signs that should be considered. Please visit the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms for more information about common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, and atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.

Parents are advised to call their health care provider if their child is feeling unwell or showing common symptoms, other symptoms/signs, or atypical symptoms/signs of COVID-19.

Yes. Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must isolate themselves in their homes as much as possible and practice physical distancing by keeping a two metres distance from others in their home. However, there is an exception when mothers are caring for their baby. Mothers may stay in the same room as their baby if they’d like, but should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby:

  • Wash hands often, especially before and after touching the baby or other children.
  • Wear a medical mask, or if not available, a non-medical mask or face covering if close contact with others and the baby cannot be avoided. The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping.
  • Keep their surrounding environment clean and disinfected.

Yes. A mother with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can still breastfeed. When breastfeeding with COVID-19, women should cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or a tissue, wear a mask, wash their hands and breast before and after touching the baby, routinely clean and disinfect surfaces, and consider covering the baby with a light blanket or towel during feeding.

Breastfeeding women should be aware of symptoms associated with COVID-19 and contact their health care provider early on if they feel unwell.

Yes. Breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed if their child has COVID-19. If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilize the equipment carefully before each use and do not share bottles or pump.

There is currently no evidence showing that a pregnant mother can pass the COVID-19 to her fetus or infant during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, the COVID-19 virus DNA was not found in the amniotic fluid, placenta, and breastmilk from pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19.

There is insufficient evidence at this time if COVID-19 can cause problems during pregnancy.

The Province of Ontario has prohibited social gatherings of more than five people and this order is still in place. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community, the WECHU encourages residents to stay home, when possible, and reduce their interactions with others. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come in close contact with.

If you choose to meet up with others in a group of five or less people, we would recommend continuing to practice safe hand hygiene, physically distance and limit the number of people you interact with to reduce your risk of exposure. If you cannot maintain physical distancing it recommended that you wear a cloth face mask.

No. As difficult as it may be, it is important to take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to the baby or to other household members. It is especially important to not have any visitors if someone in the home or the newborn has or may have COVID-19. Caregivers are encouraged to contact their healthcare professional if they are having difficulties caring for their newborn. Depending on individual families’ situations or health needs, a healthcare professional may provide alternative advice.

No. Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. Mode of birth should be based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.

Key strategies to prevent and control respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, in childcare settings:

  • Children or staff who are ill with fever and/or infectious respiratory symptoms should stay home from child care/work.
  • Consistently practise good respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing/coughing into a tissue or elbow) and hand hygiene (e.g., frequent handwashing with soap and water).
  • Ensure regular and routine environmental cleaning of the home/facility.
  • Reinforce “no food sharing” policies.

Please visit the  Middlesex-London Health Unit website for further guidance and resources on child care settings.

Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who are too unwell to breastfeed may want to consider having a healthy adult feed hand or pump expressed breast milk to the infant whenever possible. Whoever is feeding the baby should wear a mask during feeding. Women are advised to wash their hands prior to touching the breast, bottle parts, or pump and to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for proper bottle and pump cleaning.

If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately. If they’re experiencing a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19. Individuals who require immediate assessment, psychosocial intervention, medical intervention, and support may also call the Community Crisis Centre of Windsor-Essex County @ 519-973-4435 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, try visiting the Kids’ Help Phone Resources Around Me to find helpful mental health resources and programs.

To care for a child with COVID-19 at home, monitor for worsening symptoms, which may include fast breathing, difficulty breathing, confusion, an inability to recognize you, chills from a fever or a fever that will not come down with fever-reducing medication (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen) for more than 12 hours. In addition, the caregiver should wash their hands and their child’s hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any type of contact with the child and after removing gloves. Only one healthy person should provide care for the child.

If a child develops severe symptoms, call 9-1-1. When calling an ambulance, tell the dispatcher that the child has/may have COVID-19. If a child is going to the hospital in a private vehicle, call ahead and let them know they have/may have COVID-19. For more information on how to care for a child with COVID-19 at home, please visit the Government of Canada website.

Parents should maintain communication with their children while being patient and understanding. Parents know their children best, but may want to consider these tips:

  • Stay calm.
  • Don’t complicate the situation, keep it simple and clear.
  • Listen to children’s fears and thoughts.
  • Keep information age appropriate.
  • Limit news and media exposure.
  • Try to establish a flexible routine.

If an individual (child, visitor, etc.) shows symptoms of COVID-19, provide them with a surgical/procedure mask. If they cannot wear a mask ensure that the individual providing direct care to the person with symptoms wears a mask. Separate them immediately from others in a supervised area until they can go home or be picked up. If possible, stay two metres from the individual. When the individual has left, clean and disinfect the area where they were separated.

This may be a challenging time for children as they may not understand why schools are closed or why they can’t visit other family and friends. Children may begin to worry about themselves, their families, or friends getting sick. It is important to talk to children about COVID-19 to help reduce their fears. When talking to children:

  • Emphasize that they and their family are ok.
  • Avoid using language that might blame others.
  • Provide information that is honest and accurate.
  • Acknowledge their fears.
  • Provide facts about what has happened.
  • Explain the overall risk of getting the virus.
  • Give clear information about how they can reduce their risk of being infected.
  • In a reassuring way, explain what happens if they or a family member gets sick.
  • Discuss any questions they may have.
  • Reassure them that symptoms in children are generally mild.
  • Use words that they understand.

Please visit the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for further guidance on how to talk to children about COVID-19. 

Yes. Hospitals and birth centres have put in place visitor restrictions, screening protocols, and other infection and prevention controls to protect the public, patients and staff for the potential transmission of COVID-19. Before giving birth, pregnant woman are encouraged to learn about the policies in place if they plan to give birth in a hospital or birth centre. Pregnant woman who have COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider about their birth plan. The birth plan should be individualized and based on their preferences, the safety of the care provider, as well as obstetric recommendations.

Yes. Pregnant women and women who have recently gave birth, including those affected by COVID-19, should attend their routine care appointments. Discuss with your healthcare provider as virtual options may be preferred and call before all appointments.

Yes. At the beginning of each day, unlicensed child care settings are advised to actively screen all children, staff, and visitors for fevers, new or existing cough, or difficulty breathing, and if they’ve travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

For support in screening consider using the province of Ontario’s online screening tool for COVID-19.

A child might be struggling with their mental health if they have changes in behaviour or emotions (e.g., angry outbursts or depressed mood) that last most of the day or for a period of time (e.g., more than a week), or interfere with their thoughts, feelings, or daily functioning. In addition, if they tell their parents they feel sad or anxious a lot or if they express thoughts of hurting themselves. If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately, call 9-1-1, or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19.

Please visit our Where to Access Help & Resources page for information on where to access help and mental health resources.

There are many safe activities that you can enjoy with your family while avoiding large crowds.

  • Go for an evening walk. If you have dogs, include them as well. That way everyone benefits from being active.
  • Explore a local park or green space area. Go for a hike on a park trail or path. You could even try some birdwatching while on the hike.
  • With the warmer weather coming, this can be a great time to get the bike out and take the family on a ride through the neighbourhood or on some of your local parks trails.
  • Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football that you can kick or throw around in your yard or at the park. Be creative with your children on different ways you can play some games with the equipment.
  • Bring some chalk outside and play hopscotch or other fun jumping/skipping games with your children.
  • To get everyone in the family moving and away from those screens, include the whole family in some early spring cleaning or helping out with some yard work around the house.

Some people may transmit COVID-19 even though they do not show any symptoms, so any healthy household member should wear a non-medical face mask when physical distancing of two metres from the newborn cannot be ensured.

Homeless Shelters & Group Homes/Co-Living Settings

  • Expect that the homelessness service sector and residential settings will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipate modified service delivery based on staff capacity.
  • Plan for staff and volunteer absences. Staff may need to stay home from work if they are sick, caring for a sick household member, or caring for children in the event of school dismissals.
  • Identify critical job functions and positions at the shelter and plan for alternative coverage by cross-training current employees or hiring temporary employees/volunteers as required.

Unless you are a healthcare facility personal protective equipment should be ordered through your regular supplier. Healthcare facilities can order through the Ministry of Health or reach out to their local public health unit for assistance.

  • Routine cleaning followed by disinfection is a best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Facilities should follow their protocols for regular cleaning and disinfection.
  • Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. Check the expiry date before using cleaners and disinfectants, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use to ensure their effectiveness.

For more information about cleaning and disinfecting for co-living settings check out the shelter guidance document. 

  • If close contact (less than 2 metres) is required with the unwell individual (e.g., assisting with bathing or taking medication), use PPE as required for Droplet and Contact Precautions.
  • Tasks that do not involve close contact and direct care with an individual suspected/ confirmed with COVID-19 do not require additional PPE than what is normally used.
  • Tasks that require close contact and direct care with residents who are otherwise healthy, do not require additional PPE than what is normally used.
  • PPE is not required for administrative staff who do not have direct contact with clients.
  • Provide a surgical/procedure mask for clients experiencing respiratory symptoms. It must be worn when in close contact with others.
  • Masks and gloves should be worn by the person performing active screening at the entrance if there is no physical barrier between them and those entering.
  • Staff should wear gloves and a gown when doing laundry or gloves when performing general cleaning or handling clients personal belongings.
  • Drivers/passengers should wear masks when transporting clients with symptoms.

For more information about PPE use in shelters/group homes see the guidance document.

Long-Term Care Homes

Long-term care and retirement homes must implement active screening of all staff, essential visitors and anyone else entering the home for COVID-19 with the exception of emergency first responders, who should, in emergency situations, be permitted entry without screening. Screening must include twice daily (at the beginning and end of the day or shift) symptom screening, including temperature checks. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed to enter the home and should go home immediately to self-isolate. Staff responsible for occupational health at the home must follow up on all staff who have been advised to self-isolate based on exposure risk.

When a resident tests positive for COVID-19,the home will be required to test those residents who were in close contact (i.e., shared room) with the symptomatic resident and anyone else deemed high risk by the local public health unit. This would include residents living in an adjacent room. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be changed between residents so if the employee gives care to the resident who tested positive, the employee will need to change their PPE before caring for your loved one.

A single case of COVID-19 in a long term care or retirement home is considered and outbreak and will trigger a number of other infection prevention and control activities within the home, in addition to already enhanced precautions that are in place. This may include the cohorting of staff and residents to certain areas to help reduce any additional exposures, audits on infection prevention practices, and regular visits from local public health to support the home to successfully navigate and end the COVID-19 outbreak as quickly as possible.

Testing guidelines have been updated with an emphasis on symptomatic residents of long-term care and retirement homes. Updated guidance from the Ministry of Health now requires testing of asymptomatic new admissions or readmissions to these facilities within the first 14 days of admission.

  • Residents being transferred from a hospital should be tested prior to the transfer
  • All residents will be required to remain in self-isolation for 14 days following admission
  • During an outbreak the testing increases to include asymptomatic contacts of any resident that is confirmed positive for COVID-19

Residents are being monitored for symptoms fever, unusual respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat. If symptoms develop, they are immediately placed in isolation and monitored closely. 

For more information on requirements for long-term care and retirement homes visit the long-term care section of our website or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.

With COVID-19 outbreaks occurring in long-term care and retirements homes, some families may have questions about whether they should move their loved one out of a facility and into a home care setting. 

Since support from home care agencies such as CCAC is limited at this time, it is important for families to fully understand the complexity of care their loved one requires and base their decision on whether at-home care can adequately and safely accommodate their needs. A comprehensive decision tool has been developed by Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa and the National Institute on Ageing to assist families with making this decision. Things to consider include whether or not a home setting is equipped for wheelchair accessibility in bedrooms, bathrooms, and eating areas. Their loved one may also require medications or other support that requires trained medical professionals to provide.

It is also important to be aware of a facility’s re-admission policy, and be assured that accommodations will remain available for the resident to return at a later time.

The decision to move a loved one from an institution and into home care is very complex, and should be made in consultation with family members, the facility, and health care providers.

As part of the COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes, Ministry of Health, any single confirmed case of COVID-19 is a staff person or resident of a long-term care home or retirement home is considered an outbreak for COVID-19. For more information about outbreaks visit here.

The WECHU, works with homes to determine testing and support ongoing infection prevention and control practices as well as outbreak management. Health Inspectors are in regular contact with long-term care homes to provide guidance and support.

Long-Term Care and retirement homes must conduct active screening of all residents, at minimum twice daily (at the beginning and end of day). If any resident has typical or atypical symptoms of COVID-19. This regular check must include temperature checks. They are required to immediately isolate any residents with respiratory illness or fever, and ensure that staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available near the point of care for all residents and that staff do not have to walk far to access it. PPE includes disposable gowns, gloves, procedural masks and eye protection. All symptomatic residents must be tested for COVID-19.

Wherever possible, staff, contractors and volunteers are required to limit the number of work locations to minimize risk to residents of exposure to COVID-19. All long-term care homes also remain closed to non-essential visitors. This practice will continue until further notice.

For more information about long-term care and retirement homes visit the long-term care section of our website or call 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.

Residents in these types of facilities are likely to be older (over 65) individuals with complex chronic health conditions such as lung and neurological diseases that make it difficult to maintain clear respiratory pathways. Respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 are more easily transmitted in institutional environments. Information about COVID-19 suggests that elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at increased risk of severe outcomes.

Masks

A mask can be worn all day as long as it does not become damaged, damp, or dirty. Remove your mask with clean hands when you are safely able to do so, and wash your hands with soap and water again after.

It is important to note that:

  • Non-medical masks (i.e., cloth masks) can be re-used throughout the day if clean and intact – with clean hands, fold the mask in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day
  • A cloth mask should be placed directly into the washing machine. You can place a cloth mask in a plastic bag for a short time to transport it home to launder.
  • A disposable mask should be removed and replaced if soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through and should be discarded at the end of the day
  • Do not place your used mask into your pocket
  • Do not share your mask with others

There are different ways to make non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks). Health Canada has provided instructions on how to make non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks) with sew or no-sew options and has included the types of material you can use to make the non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks), such as cotton, t-shirts or bandanas.

Visit Health Canada's website for instructions on how to make a non-medical mask.

Wearing a mask can increase your risk of infection if you touch your face more frequently while readjusting it or if you do not wash your hands before putting it on and taking it off. All parts of non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks) can become contaminated by breathing or when touched by your hands.

When taking off a non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask), follow these steps:

  • After washing your hands, remove your mask by pulling the ties or ear loops away from your ears.
  • Put the mask directly into the washing machine, or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Throw out the bag after you have used it to store used masks. If the bag is washable you can wash it with your mask. Wash your hands again after removing your mask.
  • Wash the masks with other laundry using a hot cycle. If hand washing the mask, use laundry detergent and water as hot as you can stand, then dry thoroughly. Make sure to remove and discard the filter before washing.
  • When discarding damaged or worn out masks, drop them in a lined garbage bin.
  • Do not leave any discarded masks in places where others can come in contact with them such as shopping carts, public seats, bus stops, or on the ground.

Continue physical distancing and wash your hands often.

  • Use at least 2 layers of tightly woven fabric that is breathable. Cotton is the most widely used fabric. It is better if the thread count is higher. For example, 600-thread count pillowcases and cotton sheets, quilters cotton, and flannel work well.
  • A combination of fabrics can be used such as a high thread count cotton with silk, chiffon, or flannel. The more comfortable fabric should be on the inside, against the face.
  • If possible, use different fabrics or colours for each side of the mask. This helps you to know which side faces your mouth and which side faces out.
  • 2 layers of fabric means better blocking of germs compared to one layer. A 3rd layer could make the mask less breathable and does not make the mask better at blocking germs.
  • If the mask materials are not breathable enough, air will go out the sides of the mask, and will not protect others or you.
  • 2-layer masks with pleats fit many face shapes and sizes.
  • Masks made with a seam down the middle can leak air and will not block germs as well.
  • A round elastic may more comfortably fit behind the ear than a wide, flat elastic.

Non-medical masks (i.e. cloth masks) should not be placed on:

  • Children under the age of 2.
  • Anyone unable to remove the mask without help.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.

If you are sick and seeking medical care:

  • If you are coughing or sneezing, wear a non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask) to protect people around you from getting sick. This is very important if you go to an appointment, clinic, or a hospital. Do not go to other public places when you are sick, even if you are wearing a mask. If you are seeking medical care, an appropriate medical/surgical mask will be given to you. Follow the instructions given to you in the health care setting about how to remove and store your non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask) while you are there. 

If you are not sick and are going to a public place (e.g., grocery store or pharmacy):

  • If you are going to a place where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as the grocery store, pharmacy, or public transit), Dr. Ahmed asks residents to consider wearing a non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask), as they may offer some additional protection to those around you.

If you are caring for someone who is sick:

  • If you are taking care of someone who is coughing or sneezing, particularly if they are unable to wear a mask, wear a non-medical mask (i.e. cloth mask) when you are close to them.

Mental Health

Several steps can be taken to reduce stigma related to COVID-19:

  • COVID-19 has affected people from many countries across the world. Do not attach COVID-19 to any ethnicity, nationality, or geographical location. It is important to be empathetic towards those who have been affected by COVID-19 in any country, as those with the disease have done nothing wrong.
  • Use person-first language to describe individuals that may be affected by COVID-19. In other words, rather than referring to individuals with COVID-19 as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims”, or “the diseased”, refer to these individuals as “persons being treated for COVID-19” or “persons who are recovering from COVID-19”.
  • Speak out against stigmatizing behaviours or negative statements about certain groups of people regarding COVID-19. Correct misconceptions that people believe or may spread.
  • Raise awareness about COVID-19 by sharing facts from credible sources.
  • Support people who may be experiencing stigma or discrimination related to COVID-19, by reassuring them that they have done nothing wrong. 

Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories about individuals who have experienced COVID-19. This may include stories about people who have successfully recovered from the disease and are willing to share their experiences with others.

Engage in positive self-talk. During times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety can cause people to focus on “what if” situations or worst case scenarios. This may leave people feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or vulnerable. Positive self-talk strategies can help shift negative ways of thinking into more helpful mindsets. These strategies may include the following:

  • Think of stressful experiences in the past and remind yourself about the skills used to cope with them. Remember that people are resilient and use coping skills every single day. Continue to remind yourself that you can handle stress and that family, friends, colleagues, or professionals are available for additional support if needed.
  • Try to replace catastrophic thinking with positive thoughts. This may include statements such as, “This is a difficult time, but we will get through this together” or “I am resilient and will get through this”.
  • Try to focus on things that you can control during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as maintaining proper hand hygiene and practicing physical distancing. For situations that are beyond an individual’s control, try to shift emotional responses to these situations by focusing your attention on other activities or tasks, such as those listed above for self-care.

For more great tips, please see CAMH’s resource for challenging worries and anxious thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every person will respond differently to the COVID-19 crisis and will have a different method of coping. Some people cope by venting to friends or family members about their thoughts and feelings, while others may want to problem-solve or participate in a fun activity. Regardless of coping style, loved ones can offer support to family members and friends experiencing anxiety or stress during the COVID-19 crisis by:

  • Listening to the person non-judgmentally and empathizing with their situation. Try to understand where the person is coming from and always maintain open lines of communication. Remind the person that it is normal to feel stressed or anxious during this time.
  • Taking an interest in the person’s well-being by asking how they prefer to be supported. This may involve simply listening to the person, helping them to problem solve, or taking them for a walk.
  • With the person’s permission, share credible facts with them about COVID-19 from reliable sources, such as this website or other governmental or health authorities.
  • If the person is open to it, share resources with them about coping with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • Continue to check in with the person on a regular basis to offer support and assistance. Be mindful of your abilities to help in certain situations and know when it is appropriate to refer to professional support.

If the person is experiencing high levels of stress or their mental state is significantly hindering their ability to cope, encourage them to reach out for support from a mental health professional. Please see the supports and services listed below for more information.

Stay up-to-date on accurate information from legitimate sources. Limit the amount of time spent watching or listening to media that may cause stress, anxiety, or fear. Get the facts about COVID-19 by seeking information from credible and reliable sources that can be trusted, such as this website or those from other credible, governmental health authorities, such as Health Canada or Public Health Ontario. These credible sources can help to distinguish facts about COVID-19 from rumours. Facts help to minimize fears, worries, and anxious thoughts.

Stigma often occurs as a result of fear and uncertainty about things that are not fully understood. Stigmatization is especially common in disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19. The mass of information flowing through social media and other media sources about COVID-19 can create misconceptions about the disease that may cause further uncertainty, anxiety, or fear. These misconceptions can result in social stigma towards people, places, or things, which may appear through the following ways:

  • Attaching COVID-19 to a specific ethnicity, nationality, or geographic location, even though not everyone in these populations are specifically at risk for the disease
  • Blaming a person or group of people who may have the virus for “being careless and spreading the illness”
  • Socially avoiding or rejecting persons released from COVID-19 quarantines, even though they are no longer considered a risk for spreading the disease to others
  • Avoiding local places associated with myths about the virus, such as restaurants or grocers owned by people from specific nationalities or ethnicities.

Simple strategies for self-care and to reduce stress include:

  • Follow the usual measures for reducing the risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses.
  • Maintain a regular and consistent sleep routine, getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. In
  • Take breaks both at home and at work. 
  • Engage in daily physical activity.  This may include taking the dog for a walk, riding a bike, or getting a head start on spring cleaning.
  • Eat healthy and sufficient foods at regular intervals according to Canada’s Food Guide. Stay connected to friends and family members virtually
  • Participate in enjoyable activities.
  • Keep a reflective journal.  Practice meditation or relaxation techniques. 
  • Engage in deep breathing techniques. 

For more information on building a self-care and resiliency plan, please see the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Self-Care & Resilience Guide. This guide includes self-care and resiliency-based planning activities that can help individuals map out and organize their strategies for self-care.

It is okay to feel stressed or anxious during this difficult time. Recognizing and acknowledging signs and symptoms of stress is the first step to establishing a plan for managing them. Stress includes physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, Emotional symptoms like sadness or anger, and behavioral symptoms like poor judgement and risk taking.  For more about stress and mental health resources go visit here or CAMH site for coping and COVID-19.  

The COVID-19 crisis can cause stress and anxiety for individuals and communities. Considering the level of attention and concern that is being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic world-wide, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious.  

Stressful conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • COVID-19 is a new virus that is still being learned about every day. Given the uncertainty about COVID-19 and the constant changes that are unfolding, it is natural for people to feel worried or stressed.
  • Media coverage about COVID-19 is on the rise. The amount of information being delivered to the public about COVID-19 can be overwhelming for people, and may increase fears about the physical safety, health status, and wellbeing of individuals and their loved ones.
  • COVID-19 has disrupted the lives and regular routines of many people. Factors contributing to this disruption include the closure of schools, daycares, workplaces, recreational facilities, restaurants, and other public spaces to which individuals routinely interact.
    • People may feel stressed about their lack of access to routine services and activities, such as meeting friends for dinner, exercising at the gym, or going to the movies. This may result in feelings of loneliness, boredom, or social disconnection.
    • People may feel stressed about locating and maintaining child care while schools are closed
    • People may be concerned or worried about their income, finances, or job security during workplace closures.
    • The challenges of securing things that families need during the crisis, such as groceries and personal care items, can also be a stressor.

For those who feel overwhelmed by feelings of stress, anxiety, or other emotions related to COVID-19, it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Reaching out for support in these situations can be very helpful in managing stress and reducing overwhelming thoughts or emotions. There are several local supports and services available for assistance. 

For  information about mental health or substance use services in Windsor-Essex County, please contact Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600. Connex-Ontario offers free and confidential health services information for individuals experiencing mental health, substance use, or gambling issues. It also maintains a centralized and up-to-date database of treatment service information. By calling the above phone number, timely and accurate information about the services available in Windsor-Essex County will be provided, including: 

  • A detailed description of the service
  • Where the service is located
  • How to access the service
  • How long the wait to access the service may be

For more information, please visit connexontario.ca/.

For more on local resources related to mental health visit our webpage here.

There are many steps that individuals can take to manage or prevent feelings of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes staying up-to-date on accurate information from legitimate sources, practicing self-care and coping strategies, and engaging in positive self-talk. For information on how to cope with stress and anxiety during COVID-19 check out CAMH’s coping guide.

Multi-Unit Dwellings & Rentals

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often.
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
  • Create an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you have what you need if you need to self-isolate.
  • Stay in your room or unit if you are experiencing symptoms and complete the online self-assessment if you think you are sick or have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
    • For further assistance contact your health care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519- 258-2146 ext. 1420.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your unit, especially if in shared living spaces.
  • Practice physical distancing

 

While it has been shown that increasing ventilation (e.g., opening windows when weather permits) may help reduce the transmission of other viruses such as influenza, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread through ventilation systems.

For more information, see Interim Guidance for Multi-Unit Dwellings

  • Postpone any non-urgent inspections, renovations, or repair work, if possible.
  • Close all onsite recreational amenities (e.g., pools, gyms) and gathering spaces (e.g., party or entertainment rooms).
  • Limit the number of people that gather in shared spaces such as lobbies, hallways, mail rooms, laundry rooms to no more than 5 people or less if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Consider removing frequently touched items (e.g., decorative objects and non-essential furniture) from shared spaces that may be difficult to clean and disinfect.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of commonly touched surfaces in the building to at least twice a day and when visibly dirty.
    • It is strongly recommended that surfaces and objects are first cleaned and then disinfected.
    • Some areas to focus on are laundry room appliances (e.g., washers, dryers, baskets, and counters), door handles, light switches, mailboxes, stairwell railings, elevator buttons, and buzzer systems. ·
  • Although commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19, it is recommended that disinfectants contain an 8-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN) which indicates that the product has been approved for use in Canada.
  • Make sanitizer stations available in commonly used areas, if possible.
  • Encourage anyone recently returning from international travel to self-isolate for 14 days in their unit and use delivery options if they need food, groceries, or other supplies.
  • If symptoms develop, individuals should contact their health care provider or the WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420

Physical Distancing

If you are physically distancing, you may leave your home for essential trips (such as work, grocery shopping, or picking up medication) while still limiting contact with others. Self-isolation means that you do not leave your home (unless for medical attention), and you avoid close contact with individuals in your home.  

Physical distancing helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community. Physical distancing means limiting the number of people you come into close contact with, and reducing your interactions with others by staying home, when possible, and keeping a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or more from others.

Recommendations, Guidelines and Restrictions

Those that choose to fish in public areas should ensure they practice physical distancing and not gather in groups of more than five people. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches are open for recreational use as of Saturday, May 15th, 2020.

At this time, there are no restrictions specific to rental housing or accommodations. However, the Province has recently banned social gatherings of more than five people.

For more information regarding specific closures, please visit the Government of Ontario newsroom website. These closures will remain in effect until May 12th and may be extended.

As of May 19th, all retail stores with a street-front entrance can open, provided they follow various restrictions and guidelines including limiting the number of people within the stores at any given time.

At this time, WECHU encourages residents to stay home when possible, and reduce their interactions with others. For those that are not experiencing symptoms and not required to adhere to a 14 day isolation period, you can:

  • Take a walk, go to the park, walk the dog
  • Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others and stay home when sick
  • Greet others with a wave, a bow, or a nod (in place of handshakes or hugs)
  • After going outside, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

There are several ways to keep informed of the current recommendations from Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health, Windsor and Essex County. You can watch his daily Facebook live recording, access our daily news releases or go to the Guidance and Restrictions section of our website.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams has recommended all people over the age of 70 self-isolate. Further recommendations include all individuals that have pre-existing conditions or are over the age 60 stay home and limit trips whenever possible (ex. have groceries delivered). These groups of people are more likely to experience severe symptoms related to COVID-19, so it is important that they limit any interaction with other including family.

At this time, Dr. Ahmed, the Medical Officer of Health, does not recommend non-essential travel outside of Windsor and Essex County, however there are currently no restrictions related to travel within Canada.

Services include pet grooming, pet sitting, dog walking, pet training, training and provision of services animals and (as of May 16th) businesses that board animals, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animals.

We know this can be a confusing time for everyone with a lot of information shared across many organizations. Guidance and Restrictions including closures of facilities and businesses change regularly. For the most up to date information on restrictions and guidance from the local, provincial and federal authorities, visit our Guidelines and Restrictions section of the website.

Sports that are not played in teams at outdoor recreational sports centers such as tennis courts, rod and gun clubs, cycling tracks and horse riding facilities are currently allowed. Indoor rod and gun clubs and indoor golf driving rangers are also permitted at this time.

The following business and workplaces are permitted to reopen as early as Saturday, May 16th provided they comply with the strict recommended public health measures to operate safely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Golf courses, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants only for take-out
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and allow access for trailers and recreation vehicles whose owners have a full season contract
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal

The following businesses and workplaces are permitted to reopen as early as Tuesday, May 19th at 12:01 a.m., provided they comply with the strict recommended public health measures to operate safely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Seasonal businesses and recreation activities for individual or single competitions, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions
  • Retail locations located outside of shopping malls with separate street-front entrance
  • Motor vehicle dealerships
  • Media operations
  • Non-essential professional services related to conducting research and experimental development in physical, engineering and life sciences
  • Emissions inspection facilities for heavy vehicle emissions testing
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services and veterinary appointments
  • Indoor and outdoor household services such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance
  • Construction
  • Rod and gun clubs
  • Cycling tracks
  • Libraries for pickup or deliveries
  • Certain health and medical services including in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries, based on pre-specified conditions

Reporting & Complaints

For inquiries or complaints related to violations of the Federal Quarantine Act contact your local police (non-emergency line), self-isolation or social gathering violations under the emergency act.

Windsor Police Service – 519-258-6111
LaSalle Police Service – 519-969-5210
OPP – 1-888-310-1122

For inquiries or complaints related restaurants, bars, tobacconists or speciality vape stores, please contact WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.

For inquiries or complaints for all other businesses operating in violation of provincial orders or for member of the public not physically distancing or convening in groups of more than 5 people, please contact 311 in the City of Windsor or your municipal bylaw enforcement in the County of Essex.

Self-Isolation & Self-Monitoring

Self-isolation is recommended to reduce the likelihood that an individual who is or may be infectious with COVID-19 from spreading it to others. Self-isolation is recommend and/or directed by a person’s healthcare provider or public health. Self-Isolation means staying home and avoiding contact with others including people in the same household. People must self-isolate if:

  • They have returned from travel outside of Canada;
  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • They are waiting for test results for COVID-19;
  • They have symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • They have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If you are unsure if you should self-isolate contact the WECHU @ 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 or your healthcare provider.

You need to self-monitor if you currently have no symptoms but may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the last 14 days. Self-monitoring means that you check yourself for 14 days or more for one or more symptoms of COVID-19. You may leave your home for essential trips (work, groceries, picking up medication), but you should practice physical distancing from others, whenever possible.

You should self-monitor if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 OR You are in close contact with older adults or medically vulnerable people OR You have been advised to self-monitor for any other reason by public health.

If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself from others immediately and contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 as soon as possible.

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website for more information regarding this topic.

Please note that the Health Unit will contact every person who has been tested for COVID-19, regardless of a positive or negative test result. You can also check your results online using your health care number. There is currently a delay in receiving test results so please continue with self-isolation while you wait for the phone call with results.

Please speak to your healthcare provider regarding all treatment options.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, we recommend you use the self-assessment tool to determine your next steps. Close contact is defined as:

  • A person who provided care for the case, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or
  • Who had other similar close physical contact or
  • Who lived with or otherwise had close, prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.

Be advised that the health unit will contact all identified close contacts of any person confirmed with COVID-19 though laboratory test.

At this time, those that test positive for COVID-19 are not retested to ensure they are negative unless you are a healthcare worker. After a positive test result, they remain in communication with public health nurses until they are symptom free. After 14 days of self-isolating and at least 48 hours symptom-free, they are able to go outside for essential trips.

Common symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing but can include tiredness, loss of taste or smell or headache.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment specific to COVID-19. Individuals with COVID-19 should drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. For more information about COVID-19 visit here.

Statistics and Case Counts

Statistics are updated on our website every day. For daily stats and statistics related to our region, including individuals who have recovered, visit our website.

The WECHU provides information on the number of cases in our community. These numbers are updated daily on our website, including age and sex. Our goal is to release information to the public balancing what is in the public interest with the need to protect the privacy of confirmed cases. The risk of COVID-19 transmission exists in all communities and should be treated as such. Breakdowns by municipality are provided in the new weekly summary reports posted on our website.

Substance Use

The conditions around substance use can increase the risk of becoming infected due to the sharing of drug use equipment, as well as not adhering to recommendations around physical distancing or self-isolation. Poorer outcomes for people who use substances are also possible, as they may be at an increased risk due to existing health issues. If you smoke, or use opioids/methamphetamines your risk is increased because of the effects that these substances already have on breathing and heart health.

The high prevalence of chronic medical conditions among people who use drugs suggests that they may be at higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Recreational drug use is linked with reduced pulmonary function and immune suppression, both of which are risk factors for COVID-19. Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, people who smoke or vape drugs are likely to experience severe respiratory symptoms if they become infected. With evidence showing that the odds of COVID-19 infection becoming severe is 14 times higher among people who had a history of smoking compared to those who don’t smoke, more attention should be focused on people within this population. Some examples of severe respiratory complications from drug use include;

  • Tobacco and nicotine dependence from the use of cigarettes and vaping devices have been associated with negative health outcomes such as cancer, bronchitis and emphysema.
  • Marijuana smoke has been shown to cause chronic bronchitis, a respiratory condition that could be worsened by COVID-19
  • Smoking crack cocaine has been associated with lung damage and severe respiratory problems. Thus, with the imminent reduced lungs function from COVID-19, people who use drugs would likely experience negative health outcomes.
  • Methamphetamine, an opioid drug, has been shown to reduce lung function by constricting blood vessels. A COVID-19 diagnosis could further lead to poor prognosis.
  • Opioid use can negatively impact the body’s immune system. As a result, people who use drugs may be at a higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 virus.
  • Identifying and maintaining essential services such as client services, payroll and communication
  • Creating internal policies and emergency operations plan specifically for dealing with people who use drugs.
  • Anticipating potential medication and equipment shortages and creating contingency plans to deal with supply chain disruptions.
  • Identifying and stockpiling essential supplies that are required for service delivery
  • Anticipating potential staff shortages and creating mitigation plans such as cross-training employees on critical job functions, creating flexible attendances and sick-leave policies

If, in the course of your work, you encounter a client with a suspected case of COVID-19, it is recommended that you immediately report this to your Supervisor/Manager. The following are safety measures that you may consider implementing;

  1. Educate clients about safer drug use
  • Provide clients with drug use education to prevent sharing of drug supplies and equipment.
  • Focus education on the need for social distancing in order to by advising clients to reduce physical contact with other people who use drugs wherever possible
  • Clients should be advised to prepare their drugs themselves
  1. Ensure health monitoring and surveillance activities for people who use drugs
  • Identify and isolate individuals who show signs of a respiratory infection
  • Closely monitor symptoms and immediately refer serious cases to the hospital
  1. Maintain hygiene
  • Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies such as soap, alcohol-based sanitizers, trash baskets and face-masks for clients at the facility.
  • Maintaining a clean space is critical in curbing the spread of COVID-19 your facility. Workers are advised to regularly disinfect and clean surfaces
  • Educate clients about proper hand hygiene methods and encourage them to immediately report symptoms
  1. Stock up on supplies
  • Stock up on essential supplies such as personal protective equipment, First Aid supplies, needles, syringes and naloxone.
  1. Recommend buddy up system for people who use drugs
  • It is advisable for clients who are on quarantine to find buddies who can bring them food, harm reduction supplies, medicines and drugs that they require.
  • Ensure clients maintain 2 meters from their buddy in order to minimize the risk of transmitting infected respiratory droplets from person to person.

Some professionals will provide tele-rehabilitation (using technology to access physiotherapy services at a distance when an in-person visit is not possible), but there are also some on-line and self-help resources available to patients to utilize to manage chronic pain without the use of opioids or other pharmacological therapies.

  • Patients and clients should be advised to practice good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing into a bent elbow or disposable tissue), and to practice social distancing as much as possible and maintain a distance of 2 meters from other people.
  • Engage in physical activities while at home rather than consuming alcohol or other mood altering substances, as exercises can strengthen your immune system and would be more beneficial to your body in the near-term and long-term.
  • Patients and clients should be advised of virtual recovery options. Social connectedness is a key part of recovery from substance use for many people. Twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have physical meetings that people are encouraged to attend in person. Now that people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, to limit the spread of COVID-19, virtual resources are essential.

People who use substances may be at an increased risk of COVID-19 due to a number of physical, social, or environmental reasons.

  • Compromised health as a result of substance use due the effect that vaping, smoking, opioid-use, and methamphetamine can have on breathing and lung health.
  • Opioids slow breathing and have been shown to increase mortality in people with respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
  • Methamphetamine has been shown to cause significant lung damage and which could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Alcohol use can negatively impact the immune system as well as respiratory health by weakening the lungs and upper respiratory system, causing a person to be more prone to respiratory diseases.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and harmful for those who are not able to access the substances on which they depend due to supply issues caused by COVID-19.
  • High-risk activities for people who use substances who may be less likely to follow instructions around physical distancing and more likely to engage behaviours such as sharing drug equipment.
  • Stigma, social marginalization and economic challenges, including a lack of access to housing and health care can add to risk during this time.

Healthcare providers in RAAM clinics are encouraged to make modifications. Here are some recommendations from the network of RAAM clinic administrators and care providers across Ontario (META:PHI, 2020).

  • See already-connected patients over OTN or telephone.
  • Perform screening tests at the door, and see patients who screen positive through a protective barrier (e.g., a mask, a window, etc.).
  • Provide masks to all patients who do not already have one.
  • Increase the distance between seats in the waiting room.
  • Ask patients with both cell phones and cars to wait in their cars rather than in the waiting room, and call or text them when it is their turn to be seen.
  • Extend prescriptions for stable patients.
  • Dedicate additional hours to booked appointments with walk-in patients who cannot be seen during regular walk-in hours due to limited space and capacity.

A patient who screens positive or is in self isolation should have someone from outside of their household to pick up their medications or the pharmacy should arrange for the delivery of medications.

Health Canada’s policy position Transportation of Controlled Substances in Canada permits pharmacists to transport controlled substances to patients with an appropriate prescription. During COVID-19 the The Office of Controlled Substances has issued a short-term subsection 56(1) exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Health Canada, March 23, 2020). Subject to the laws and regulations of the province in which the pharmacist is entitled to practice, this exemption will authorizes pharmacists to:

  • Prescribe, sell, or provide controlled substances in limited circumstances,
  • Transfer prescriptions for controlled substances.

In Ontario, a pharmacy owner or designated manager should determine the most appropriate process, considering the particulars of the medication with respect to security and storage and articulate this process to the pharmacy team. For further guidance please review Ontario Pharmacy Association’s COVID-19: A Pharmacist’s Guide to Pandemic Preparedness 

For professionals in the healthcare sector that work with people who use substances there are unique considerations due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Some of these include:

  • Potential medication shortages,
  • Pharmacy disruption to dispensing
  • Patient illness or quarantine

Access to prescription medications may be limited during this time. So it is important to work with clients, especially those that are taking Opioid Agonist Therapies (OAT), such a methadone and buprenorphine. New interim guidelines (March 23, 2020) for management of OAT address office visits, remote visits, carry doses, and frequency of urine drug testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional guidance visit: www.metaphi.ca (METPHI/OMA, March 22, 2020).

Some patients that use substances or have a substance use disorder may find self-isolation and stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen their problems. Additional information on supports for these patients can be accessed at SUB-Section: Specific recommendations I can make to my patients or clients who use substances?

When administering naloxone to client, use a face shield with one-way valve masks as it provides adequate protection to the harm reduction worker and the client. It is important to note that the use of bag valve mask, high flow oxygen and non-rebreathers may increase the risk of transmission due to possible contact with respiratory droplets.

Outpatient treatment options are to be used to the greatest extent possible, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the risk of viral infection from COVID-19, it is recommended that intensive outpatient treatment services be utilized whenever possible.

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Withdrawal management services, community withdrawal management, and Windsor Addiction Assessment and Outpatient Service (WAAOS) Assessment and Referral Program are all still available to clients, requiring support with detoxification to safely withdraw, as well as support to access treatment services.

Erie St Clair Clinic - Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic also provides fast access to treatment for individuals with opioid or alcohol dependence. The program provides assessment and medical treatment using approved drug therapies, along with other services and referrals.

Community Crisis Centre offers service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to individuals who require immediate assessment, psychosocial intervention, medical intervention, and support. Follow-up crisis counselling and referrals.

  • Adapting spaces within your facility in order to increase social distancing between clients.
  • Establishing measures to prevent overcrowding such as limiting the number of visitors at the facility and reducing the duration of stay.
  • Ensuring that the environment is kept clean and frequently disinfected to protect the health of the workers and clients at the facility.
  • Educating clients about respiratory etiquettes to prevent spread of COVID-19
  • Creating spaces within the facility that can be used to accommodate clients who show symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Monitoring the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit website for current information related to COVID-19.

Patients and clients should be advised of virtual recovery options. Social connectedness is a key part of recovery from substance use for many people. Twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have physical meetings that people are encouraged to attend in person. Now that people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, to limit the spread of COVID-19, virtual resources are essential.

Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs)

  • The period of employment for temporary foreign workers begins upon their arrival to Canada, and includes the period of self-isolation (14-days).
  • Employer cannot authorize the worker to work during the self-isolation period, even if requested by the worker. This includes any other duties, such as building repairs or administrative tasks.
  • During the self-isolation period, the employer must pay the worker regular pay and benefits. The provisions of the applicable contract must be followed for workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
  • For other workers, the employer must pay the worker for a minimum of 30 hours/week (rate of pay based on Labour Market Impact Assessment)
  • Employer can withhold standard contract deductions (e.g., employment insurance, housing, transportation, etc.), but is not allowed to deduct any additional amount due to the self-isolation period. Proof of wages should be kept.
  • The employer must house self-isolating workers in accommodations that are separate from those not subject to self-isolation. Review the Self-Isolation Plan Checklist [5] for more information.
  • Workers can be housed together, but it must enable them to maintain a social distance of 2 metres apart (e.g., beds need to be at least 2 meters apart).
  • Shared facilities (e.g., bathroom, kitchen, living space) are allowed, but must have sufficient space to allow workers to follow self distance requirements.
  • Each housing unit must adhere to a daily cleaning and disinfecting schedule.  Use the Daily Cleaning Log [6]to ensure that all areas are undergoing regular cleaning.
  • For the duration of the self-isolation period, the employer must ensure that the accommodation does not prevent the worker from avoiding contact with older adults (65+) and those with medical conditions who are at risk of developing serious illness
  • If new workers are housed for self-isolation in the same accommodation as others who are self-isolating, the clock resets to the day the most recent worker arrived.
  • It is recommended that date-stamped photos be taken of the facilities to demonstrate compliance and sent to their Public Health Inspector upon request.
  • Informational posters should be provided and displayed in the accommodation common areas (e.g. kitchen, living room, and bathrooms) about proper hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. Provide these resources in the workers preferred language.

Daily health checks should take place for all workers. Use the Daily Health Check Log [7] to keep track of each worker’s health status.

Just like all Canadians, the employer is asked to report any violation to the Quarantine Act on the part of a self-isolating worker to local law enforcement.

All newly arriving TFWs who enter Canada by air or land must have their health checked and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. The 14-day isolation period is mandatory even if workers show no symptoms and workers are not to be performing any work duties during this time other than cleaning and disinfecting of their accommodations.

Travel Restrictions

All non-essential employee travel and non-essential visitors including suppliers and vendors should be stopped until further notice.  Post signage at the farm entrance to discourage unexpected visitors from entering the property.

Develop a Self Isolation Plan and an Emergency Response Plan

Develop a self isolation plan and an emergency response plan to manage your workforce and enable employees to self-isolate [8] should someone exhibit symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Due to the number of individuals who typically reside in seasonal housing accommodations, please note that this may require owners/operators to provide alternative housing arrangements for ill employees. Ensure that medical care is available to all employees if needed.

Adhere to Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices

The employer must ensure that workers have access to facilities that allow them to wash their hands often with soap and warm water, providing soap, and providing an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.

The employer should also ensure that enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols are being implemented in living quarters, work areas, and other common areas immediately:

  • Clean all surfaces using commercially purchased multi-surface household cleaners.
  • If using a disinfectant, only use those which have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms it is approved for use in Canada.
  • Check the expiry date of cleaning products before using them and always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Frequently touched surfaces are more likely to be contaminated. Surfaces that have frequent contact with hands should be cleaned and disinfected twice per day and when visibly dirty. Examples of frequently touched surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink tap handles, bedside tables, counters, tables, chairs, hand rails, buffet utensils, touch screen surfaces, TV or radio remotes, and keypads.
  • Food within seasonal housing accommodations should be protected from contamination at all times. This may include safe distancing or ensuring guards or coverings for food, and utensils.
  • Ensure all hand wash sinks are supplied with soap and paper towels.
  • Provide computer access to allow for online shopping and delivery, including medication delivery.
  • Provide grocery/meal delivery options, Click-and-Collect, etc.
  • Arrange for online banking options to complete international money transfers. Ensure computer access to employees to facilitate this. Develop a schedule to prevent large groups attempting to use the computer at the same time. 
  • Encouraging the use of Telehealth, Ontario Telemedicine Network OTN [18] and online and phone health services if needed.
  • Encourage employees to designate shoppers who can collect supplies for several workers or coordinate the shopping for everyone.
  • Inform workers of the potential that law enforcement officers may take steps to disperse groups of individuals including workers in public spaces.

Encourage your workforce to download the HUB Connect App for ongoing updates and select Ontario if their region is not listed.

 

The employer must regularly monitor the health of workers who are self-isolating, as well as any employee who becomes ill after the self-isolation period.

  • During the self-isolation period, the employer should communicate with workers daily by call, text, e-mail, or in-person (if no other option is available, while maintaining a 2-meter physical distance), and ask if he/she is experiencing any symptoms. A record of responses should be maintained. Use the Daily Health Check Log to keep track of each worker’s health status.
  • If a worker develops symptoms at any point, the employer must immediately arrange for the worker to be fully isolate from others and call the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (519) 258 – 2146 ext. 1420

Employers should implement passive and active screening measures at the farm.

Passive screening involves posting up signage around the farm and living areas related to COVID-19. Signs should be:

  • Clear, visible and in multiple languages if necessary
  • Should have information about signs and symptoms of COVID-19, hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette.

Active screening involves setting up a screening station/table with a staff member who will verbally ask workers about any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and provide guidance if there are any reported illnesses. Screening activities should be focused on TFWs and should be done on a regular basis throughout the day.

  • Symptomatic workers should be instructed to immediately isolate themselves.
  • Workers and the employer should use the online self-assessment tool for instructions on seeking further care.
  • Active screening stations must be set up in a way that ensure a minimum 2 metre distance is maintained between workers and the screener.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available at the screening table.

Read the Ministry of Ontario guidance document for further details on setting up an active screening station.

Testing

Testing is available for the following populations:

  • All people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms.
  • People who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case.
  • People who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers.

Currently it may take several days to get the results of your COVID-19 test. The public health unit will call you with your results. You can also check for your results yourself online using your health card number.

Windsor’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is located at the Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette Campus with its entrance off Goyeau Street (located to the left of the Emergency Department entrance). Please note there is NO access from the main hospital into the Assessment Centre. All access is from the entrance off Goyeau Street.

There will be no medication or treatment onsite at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

HOURS
Every day (Monday to Sunday)
9AM to 4PM

LOCATION
Windsor Regional Hospital Ouellette Campus
1030 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor
Entrance from Goyeau Street, to the left of the Emergency Department


Essex County’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre is located at Erie Shores HealthCare (ESHC) at the ambulatory clinic off Fader Street in a segregated area next to the ESHC emergency department. Please note, there will be NO access into the main hospital from this entrance and NO access to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre directly from the main hospital.  The only point of access is from the entrance off Fader Street.

There will be no medication or treatment onsite at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

HOURS
Every day (Monday to Sunday)
8AM to 4PM (there will be no new assessments after 3:30 p.m.)

LOCATION
Erie Shores HealthCare
194 Talbot Street West, Leamington
Entrance from Fader Street, segregated area next to the Emergency Department


First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people and their families may also choose to visit the Southwest Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) Windsor location for assessment and testing for COVID-19. Screening and testing is appointment based. Call SOAHAC at 519-916-1755

HOURS
Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm

LOCATION
1405 Tecumseh Road West, Unit 2
Windsor, ON

Transmission of COVID-19

COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person, through close contact with others and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how influenza spreads. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object or surfaces with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, face, nose or eyes.

SURFACE

LIFESPAN OF COVID-19 VIRUS

Paper and tissue paper

3 hours

Copper

4 hours

Cardboard

24 hours

Wood

2 days

Cloth

2 days

Stainless Steel

2-3 days

Polypropylene Plastic

3 days

Glass

4 days

Paper Money

4 days

Outside of Surgical Mask

7 days

Chin AWH, Chu JTS, Perera MRA, Hui KPY, Yen H, Chan MCW, et al. Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions. Lancet Microbe. 2020;1(1):e10. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666- 5247(20)30003-3

Van Doremalen N, Bushmaker T, Morris DH, Holbrook MG, Gamble A, Williamson BN, et al. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(16):1564-7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Viruses, like COVID-19 are transferred through large droplets created when someone sneezed or coughs and those droplets come into contact with the eye, nose or mouth allowing entry into the body. This is called droplet transmission. Typically droplets spread up to 2 metres and then drop to the ground. Current science for COVID-19 indicated it is spread by droplet transmission similar to other viruses like influenza and SARS.

Airborne transmission happens when evaporated droplets containing the virus stay in the air for long periods of time and transmission occurs when someone breathes in and the virus gets into their throat or lungs. Common diseases that spread through airborne transmission include tuberculosis, measles and chickenpox.

 

A simple ‘spray and wipe’ won’t work – instead, surfaces should first be cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected with approved agents. Allow the agent sit for 10 minutes before wiping.

 

Working in the United States

Please talk to your employer about work from home options, if possible. If you are unable to work from home, we recommend trying to limit your exposure practicing work/home self-isolation. The best way to do this is to limit your daily contact with others by going straight to work and returning home directly. We encourage you to assess your health daily using the self-assessment tool.

If you develop symptoms, please call your primary healthcare provider or the Health Unit at 519-258-2146 extension 1420.

Workplaces, Employers and Employees

It is recommended that employees who are sick to not attend work until symptom free for 48-hours. Your employer will put in policies and procedures to limit exposure in the workplace. Employers with employees recently returning from travel should follow public health guidance and make the following considerations:

  • Non-essential travel outside of Canada is prohibited and all returning travelers are required to self-isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act. Individuals who are self-isolating should NOT go to work.
  • At any time during self-isolation if symptoms develop residents should contact their healthcare provider or the WECHU at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 to determine next steps.
  • If individuals have had contact or potential contact with a case of COVID-19, they should contact their primary care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146 ext. 1420 for information.

Please refer to the Ministry of Labour for any further questions related to workplace practices.

As store sizes and layouts differ depending on the business, there is no set limit on the number of patrons permitted in a store at a given time. Business owners are required to ensure that there is room for physical distancing between patrons and staff at all times. The Framework for Reopening Stage 1 Guide suggests that businesses limit the number of patrons per square metre of space, for example, one customer per 4 square metres. For more about the Stage 1 reopening plan read the full document here.

Your employer, in consultation with public health, will conduct a risk assessment. Certain “essential” workers are permitted to return to work under certain conditions, with approval from the local Medical Officer of Health.

If the essential worker is exempted from self-isolation on public health’s recommendation, all efforts should be made to minimize their contact with others.

In addition, returning essential workers must follow these conditions:

  • Take and record their temperature on a daily basis for 14 days, monitor symptoms and report to public health daily
  • At any point, if they develop symptoms (even mild), they must immediately self-isolate, be excluded from work and tested for COVID-19

All confirmed cases receive guidance from health unit nurses. Positive cases of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days after their onset of symptoms. It is important that individuals receive and follow guidance from public health staff in order to reduce the risk of any further transmission of the virus. At the end of the two weeks, provided they have been symptom free for 48 hours or longer, individuals would be able to return to work and practice ongoing physical distancing, avoiding public places and self-monitoring for symptoms in line with all public health community recommendations. Individual workplaces can create their own guidelines and policies regarding return to work for their employees as long as they do not conflict with the public health guidance recommendations.

Due to confidentiality concerns, the health unit will not be contacting workplaces to discuss individual cases however, individuals may be contacted as a part of the contract tracing process. Individuals should inform there employer of their test results so that proper health and safety measures can be put in place.

The WECHU follows up with all COVID-19 cases and close contacts of any person confirmed with COVID-19 through laboratory tests. A “close contact” is defined as:

  • A person who provided care for the case, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or
  • Who had other similar close physical contact, or
  • Who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.

If you are concerned about your safety at work, please contact your human resource department or internal occupational health and safety committee. If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 you will be contacted.

Following general safe food handling practices and performing frequent and thorough hand washing are effective ways to prevent the spread of food borne illnesses and viruses such as COVID-19. In addition to safe food handling practices and hand washing:

  • Do NOT go to work if you are feeling sick
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing of the delivery vehicle
  • Note that glove use is not necessary and does not replace proper hand hygiene
  • Be sure to maintain the required 2 metre physical distance between yourself and others if waiting in line to pick up takeout food for a delivery
  • Avoid close contact with customers during the delivery process by arranging for prepayment on the phone or online
  • If possible, make arrangements to drop off the food delivery at the home’s entrance instead of having direct interaction with the person receiving the delivery.

Following general safe food handling practices and performing frequent and thorough hand washing are effective ways to prevent the spread of food borne illnesses and viruses such as COVID-19. 

In addition to safe food handling practices and hand washing:

  • Do NOT go to work if you are feeling sick

  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, equipment and utensils

  • Note that glove use is not necessary and does not replace proper hand hygiene

  • Avoid close contact with customers and co-workers by maintaining a 2 metre distance from yourself and others as much as possible

For more detailed information from the Ministry for food service employers and workers, visit the Restaurant and food services health and safety during COVID-19 webpage.

Currently, dental offices are permitted to open for emergency medical procedures only. This includes the following:

  • severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • pericoronitis or third-molar pain
  • surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing changes
  • abscess or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling
  • tooth fracture resulting in pain, pulp exposure or causing soft tissue trauma
  • dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
  • final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation
  • biopsy of a suspicious oral lesion or abnormal oral tissue
  • replacing a temporary filling in an endodontic access opening for patients experiencing pain
  • snipping or adjusting an orthodontic wire or appliance piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa
  • treatment required before critical medical procedures can be provided

All other procedures will be available upon the lifting of restrictions as part of Ontario’s phased reopening plan. For information regarding dental services in the province of Ontario please visit the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario’s website.

Many local healthcare providers have shifted their services to online or phone-based appointments. It is at the discretion of the provider when it is safe to reopen their doors to provide face-to-face appointments. As of May 19th the province has permitted more medical procedures to continue. To find a medical provider that is currently offering service visit ehealthwindsoressex.ca.

The province has an information line called ‘Stop the Spread’ that businesses can call with questions at 1-888-444-3659. This number is available 7 days a week.

All workplaces must put in appropriate screening practices and protocols for workers returning from travel outside of Canada to exclude them from work for 14 days upon their return. Employees must do their part to identify their travel and stay home. Employees concerned that fellow workers are returning to work and not following current guidance should consult with the organizations human resource department or internal occupational health and safety committee.