COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is a new disease that has not previously been identified in humans. It comes from the coronavirus family, which is a large family of viruses, where some can cause illness in people and others can cause illnesses in animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold. Rarely do animal coronaviruses infect people and even more rarely can these viruses be spread from person to person through close contact.
Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19 but those with an increased risk of a more sever outcomes are those that are aged 65 and over, have compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical conditions.
The 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
It is unclear at this time how exactly the SARS-CoV-2 began. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats. The SARS-CoV-2 is known as a betacoronovirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, and all three of these viruses have their origins in bats.
Early on, many patients in the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, had some large link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal to person spread. However, later on, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets and thus indicated a person to person spread. Currently, we have community spread happening with those becoming infected not knowing where they have been exposed.
Symptoms and Testing
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
Complications from COVID-19 can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure and, in some cases, death.
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.
If you have symptoms, or symptoms develop, self-isolate immediately, do Ontario's Self-Assessment Tool, call TBDHU at (807) 625-5900 or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630 or your primary healthcare provider.
If you require immediate medical attention, please dial 911 and explain your symptoms or phone ahead to the emergency department.
At this time, low risk, asymptomatic individuals are not considered for testing. (Ontario Government 2019 Testing Guidance)
Given that given an incubation period of up to 14 days for COVID-19 disease after exposure, a negative PCR test result in an asymptomatic person cannot be used to rule out exposure and subsequent disease. PHO is not currently recommending routine testing of asymptomatic persons for COVID-19 outside of those recommended in Ministry guidance, or as directed by the public health unit for public health investigation.
Currently, for the NOSH catchment area (including Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Marathon, Netmizaagameg Nishnaabeg, Pays Plat, Schreiber and Terrace Bay), it takes approximately 5 businesses days to receive test results for COVID-19. These wait times are subject to change based on laboratory resources and capacity. Please continue to self-isolate while awaiting test results.
Please note: Effective as of Friday, April 24, 2020, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit will no longer be calling individuals who have tested NEGATIVE for COVID-19. Individuals who have tested POSITIVE for COVID-19 will still be contacted by the TBDHU. You can find your results here: Ontario COVID-19 Test Results Viewer
If you recieve a positive test result, you will be contacted by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit who will advise you to self-isolate immediately. They will provide you and your close contacts with further instructions.
There are different types of close contacts including:
- Household (people who live in the same house),
- Community (people in close contact during flights, personal care or other close interaction for a significant amount of time) or
- Any other individual who had similar close physical contact including face-to-face contact within 2 metres and for more than 15 minutes.
If you are deemed a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, a public health nurse will contact you and advise you to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19 if you develop symtpoms.
How COVID-19 Spreads and Ways to Protect Yourself/Family
COVID-19 are commonly spread through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands that is within 2 metres and for at least 15 minutes
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
To help protect yourself you should:
- wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (minimum 60% alcohol)
- stay at home unless you have to go to work
- avoid all non-essential trips in your community
- do not gather in groups
- limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health
- go outside to exercise but stay close to home
- if you leave your home, always keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths from others and wash your hand
- avoid touching your face, in particular your mouth, nose or eyes, especially with unwashed hands
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Immediately throw away used tissues and wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer
- Clean and disinfect high-touch areas frequently.
Physical Distancing, Self-Isolation and Self-Monitoring
Physical distancing are the steps taken to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. Everyone should be practicing physical distancing at this time. This includes, but are not limited to:
- staying home as much as possible
- avoid all crowded places and any non-essential gatherings of over 5
- avoid common greetings, such as handshakes
- limit contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
- keeping a distance of at least 2 metres (2 arms-lengths) away from others.
Self-isolation must occur when there is a risk of COVID-19 exposure. If you:
- are returning from travel to an impacted area
- have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19
- have symptoms (even if mild)
- have been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19, OR,
- The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (or another public health authority) has told you that you may have been exposed and need to quarantine.
If you have no symptoms you are allowed to go out in your own backyard and property, but must ensure you can keep 2 metres from any public space. If you have symptoms you must stay indoors at all times.
For more information on Self-isolation please visit: TBDHU: Self-isolation
Everyone without symptoms who has had possible exposure of COVID-19 in the past 14 days should self- monitor for symptoms.
- following general infection prevention and control measure (eg. Screening, personal hygiene, cough etiquette, environmental screening and physical distancing)
- stay at home as much as possible
- talk to your employer about working from home if possible
- avoid all non-essential trips in your community
- limit contact with people at higher risk (eg. Seniors and individuals that are immunocompromised or have chronic health conditions);
- you may exercise outside unless you develop symptoms or have travelled to an impacted area in the past 14 days. If you do exercise outside, do not congregate and always practice physical distancing by keeping at least 2 metres from others at all time.
For more information on self-monitoring, please visit: TBDHU: Self-monitoring for symptoms
You are able to go for a walk but you must not congregate and always practice safe physical distancing by remaining 2 metres apart from those not in your household at all times. You are NOT able to go for a walk if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, are in quarantine or in isolation.
COVID-19 In Our Community
Click here to see the most up to date numbers for our district.
The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household. To read more about different types of face coverings and masks, including when and how to use them, visit: CDC: How to Select Masks
Pregnant Women and COVID-19
At this current time, there is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at a greater risk for a more serious outcome related to COVID-19 or that their developing child could be negatively affected by COVI-19. With that being said, COVID-19 is still a new disease and researchers are constantly learning how it can affect pregnant women.
You can protect yourself from becoming ill by taking the following precautions:
- stay home as much as possible, except for important medical appointments
- talk to your doctor, obstetrician or midwife about the possibility of telephone or videoconference appointments
- avoid unnecessary visitors to your home
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available);
- practice physical distancing by keeping a distance of at least 2 metres from others
- avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes
- avoid crowded places and peak-hours
- make limited trips to the store for essentials
- avoid travel by public transit.
COVID-19 and Animals
At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 and any risk is considered low. A small number of pets have been reported to have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19. While the risk remains low, it is always a good idea to practice healthy habits around your pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.
If you do become ill with COVID-19, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animal while you are sick. If another member is unable to care for your pets, wash your hands before and after your interact with your pets and wear a cloth face covering.
Currently there is no evidence to suggest the virus that causes COVID-19 is circulating in free-living wildlife in Canada, or that wildlife might be a source of infection for people in Canada. Further studies will be needed to understand whether the infection could be spread among wildlife or if it could spread to other animals, including pets.
Even though there is no evidence of wildlife spreading COVID-19, they carry other diseases (even without looking sick) and it is always important to enjoy wildlife from a distance.
For more information please visit:
Additional Information for Healthcare Professionals
Those at greatest risk for infection are those who have prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient who is symptomatic or confirmed COVID-19.
At this time, the incubation period (time from exposure to development of symptoms) ranges from 2-14 days. The onset and duration of viral shedding and the period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet known. It is possible that SARS-CoV-2 RNA may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infections with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. However, detection of viral RNA does not necessarily mean that infectious virus is present. There are reports of asymptomatic infections and pre-symptomatic infections with SARS-CoV-2 but their role in transmission is not yet known.
Not all patients with COVID-19 will require medical care. Clinical management for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is focused on supportive care for complications, including supplemental oxygen and advanced organ support for respiratory failure, septic shock, and multiple organ failure.
Any patient requiring extra support such as ventilation will be transported to Thunder Bay Regional for specific care.
Patients can be discharges as soon as they are clinically allowed. If they are release prior to a negative test result, they will be required to isolate at home.
Surgical/procedure mask and hand hygiene.
Wear surgical/procedure mask, practice hand hygiene and move to COVID room or other designated area, maintain spatial distance of at least 2 metres or separated by physical barrier.
Otherwise, droplet and contact precautions including:
- surgical/procedure mask
- isolation gown
- eye protection (goggles or face shield)
If performing an aerosol-generating medical procedure:
- N95 respirator (fit-tested, seal checked)
- impermeable gown
- neck and head cover
- 2 pairs of gloves eye protection (googles or face shield) and
- Negative pressure room.
** For all other scenarios and departments, please visit our NOSH Intranet PPE Page for the full PPE Conservation Guide**
Last Updated: October 2nd, 2020