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What we know about the virus:

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. The virus did not match any other known virus. On January 7, 2020, China confirmed COVID-19. The first presumptive case of this infection in Ontario was identified on January 25, 2020.

Aside from Canada, other countries and regions are reporting cases. Check the latest travel health notices before travelling.

Recent News:

At this time, the public health risk associated with COVID-19 is low for the general population in Canada but this could change rapidly. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for
Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

How the virus spreads:

Coronaviruses are commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands

These viruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands;
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • cough and sneeze into your sleeve and not your hands; and
  • stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

Clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1-part bleach to 9 parts water):

  • toys
  • toilets
  • phones
  • electronics
  • door handles
  • bedside tables
  • television remotes

The symptoms of the virus:

Symptoms of human coronaviruses may be very mild or more serious, such as:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Most vulnerable groups:

  • Older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems or certain preexisting conditions
  • Those who have traveled to areas most effected by the virus
  • Individuals who have been in close contact with infected individuals

The Home Care Assistance response to COVID-19

Most of our clients are particularly vulnerable older adults who face greaterrisk of complications in the event of a COVID-19 transmission. We are continuously assessing our response and best practices as new information emerges. Based on the information available at this time, we are taking the following precautionsto protect our clients and caregivers:

  • All caregivers and internal team members have received communication regarding COVID-19, safety protocols, travel reporting requirements, and Health Canada advisory – including proper handwashing techniques, respiratory etiquette, and warning signs of illness
  • We will not place any caregiver who has traveled outside Canada, in the past one month for a minimum of 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider
  • We will not place any caregiver who has been exposed to a facility where COVID19 is being treated for a minimum of 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider
  • We will not place any caregiver who has symptoms of COVID-19 on assignment
  • We have issued guidance to our employees regarding appropriate infection- control protocols, including effective cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, hands and other best practices.
  • We continue to communicate with and update our employees regarding reporting of potential outbreaksin communities, facilities or individuals
  • Clients and their family members with whom they have close contact should report to their Client Care Managersif they have traveled outside of Canada.
  • Clients and their family members with whom they have close contact should report to their Client Care Managers if they are infected or being treated for possible infection of COVID-19
  • Our management team is available for any client needs with regards to COVID-19 preparation. If you are mobility limited and need supportin obtaining medicalsupplies or necessities(water, gloves, etc.), please reach out to our teamsto support you in the best way possible. Please note that certain supplies, such as masks, are highly limited
    but we will do our best
  • We will not accept new clients who demonstrate symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or who have traveled to severely affected areas in the most recent 14 days

Upon return to Canada:

  • Self-isolate for 14 days after your return from travel outside of Canada. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups such as health care workers
  • Monitor your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds and cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.

If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days:

  • Continue to isolate yourself from others
  • Immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
    • describe your symptoms and travel history
    • follow their instructions carefully

In addition, if you return from Italy, Iran, or Hubei province (China) you will be asked to contact the public health authority in the province or territory where you live or are staying within 24 hours of arriving in Canada and to provide your contact information.

Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397

Additional resources:

HOME CARE ASSISTANCE CONTACT NUMBERS

GTA WEST: 905-337-1200