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Alert Date: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 3:30pm
Windsor and Essex County


The Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is providing an update regarding COVID-19. Globally, there are more than 90,000 cases and over 3000 deaths with over 58 countries effected. As of today, Public Health Labs of Ontario has tested samples for >1000 individuals and has confirmed 13 positive cases in Ontario. Windsor and Essex County continues to have no confirmed cases and the risk of exposure to residents remains low, however we are planning for all possible scenarios as this evolves and have systems in place to respond should the situation escalate.


The case definition has changed as of February 26, 2020. Persons under investigation include:

Any person with fever and/or cough or difficulty breathing AND any of the following within 14 days prior to onset of illness:

  • Travel to an impacted area (which includes China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea)
  • Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 
  • Close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to an impacted area


All primary health care providers are being encouraged to prepare for the possible impact of COVID-19 in our community. Fit-testing and access to N95 mask is recommended for health care providers and their staff members. Please visit WECHU website or OMA website to access additional infection prevention and control recommendations to screen, assess and manage suspect COVID-19 cases in primary care practice. .

Should a client present to a health care provider with respiratory symptoms and a travel history:

  • Place a surgical mask on the client
  • Escort client to a private room
  • Conduct a symptom assessment and obtain travel history
  • Contact WECHU if client meets case definition and requires testing to r/o COVID-19 @ 519-258-2146 x 1420


Due to increasing volumes, PHO Laboratory has changed requirements for specimen collection and testing.

For ambulatory patients e.g. ER not admitted, outpatient:

  • Only one swab (preferable nasopharyngeal) will be accepted for COVID-19 testing  (no longer necessary to collect a throat culture)
  • PHO Laboratory will no longer perform testing for other respiratory viruses for samples submitted for COVID-19 testing

PHO Laboratory has implemented a new testing requisition for COVID -19. The new test requisition has eliminated the requirement to contact the laboratory for approval prior to testing. However, at the time of testing the Health Care Providers MUST contact the WECHU to notify regarding patients being tested for COVID-19. Contact the Infectious Disease Department @ 519-258-2146 x 1420 for consultation and collaboration regarding testing and notification. After hours, contact 519-973-4510.

PHO is currently not recommending routine testing of asymptomatic persons for COVID-19.


Local public health agencies continue to monitor travellers returning from impacted areas for 14 days after their departure. Travellers are advised to contact local public health units upon return to Canada. The WECHU is conducting risk assessments and advising travellers to self-isolate and/or self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.  Travellers from Hubei are required to self-isolate for a total of 14 days from the date they left Hubei. All other travellers from impacted countries are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms and to contact the WECHU should respiratory symptoms present. To date, there has been no verified data to suggest the incubation period extends beyond the 14 day period.


Our website, is updated daily with the most current information.

Our top priority is the health and safety of our community. Public health authorities across Canada, at all levels of government are working together to develop a response to this rapidly changing situation. The WECHU will continue to lead the local response and provide new information as it become available.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, MBBS, MAS, MSc, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health