2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In response to the rapidly-spreading and highly transmissible Omicron variant, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, 2021, the Ontario government is applying additional public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity and social gathering limits. For more information, visit the Province of Ontario website 

Waterloo Region residents are strongly advised to continue practicing public health measures and get vaccinated to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Symptoms and testing 

Starting December 31, publicly funding PCR testing is only available for vulnerable people with significant medical issues, and residents and staff in the highest-risk settings, such as hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes and congregate living centres.

Most people with a positive result from a rapid antigen test will not longer be eligible for a PCR test, and will not be required or encouraged to get a PCR test to confirm their result.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not eligible for a PCR test and do not have access to a rapid antigen test, you should assume you have COVID-19

If you are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12, you and your household contacts should self-isolate at home for five days.

For anyone who is not fully vaccinated and has symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household contacts should self-isolate for 10 days.

You can take this self-assessment if you were exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms, or would like to self-screen to get advice on what to do next.

Case and contact management

  • Public Health will complete case and contact management for highest-risk settings only, such as long-term care and retirement homes
  • Public Health will not be following-up with any non highest-risk settings like workplaces, events, public settings and sports teams
  • Individuals who have tested positive on a COVID-19 test (PCR, rapid molecular or rapid antigen) or who are presumed to have COVID-19 based on their symptoms should self-isolate immediately
    • If the individual is 12 years of age or older AND either partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated they must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of their test (whichever came sooner)
    • If the individual is immune compromised (regardless of age and vaccination status) they must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of their test (whichever came sooner)
    • If the individual is 12 years of age or older AND fully vaccinated they must self-isolate for at least five days from the onset of symptoms and until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms) whichever is longer in duration
    • If the individual is under 12 years of age (regardless of their vaccination status) they must self-isolate for at least five days from the onset on symptoms and until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) whichever is longer in duration
  • All household members (regardless of their vaccination status) will need to self-isolate while the case is self-isolating.
  • Non-household contacts who do not have symptoms and are fully vaccinated can self-monitor for 10 days from their last exposure to a case
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive on a COVID-19 test, tell your close contacts that they have been exposed. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths or time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first. Close contacts in schools should follow the school-based guidance
  • Informing your contact(s) will help stop the spread of the virus. Visit ontario.ca/exposed to help protect you and your contacts. Your close contacts should follow the advice for being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Symptomatic people who are eligible for PCR testing

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Patients seeking emergency medical care, at the discretion of the treating clinician
  • Patient-facing healthcare workers
  • Staff, volunteers, residents/inpatients, essential care providers, and visitors in hospitals and congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, temporary foreign worker settings, and correctional institutions
  • Symptomatic outpatients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered
  • Those 70 and older who have a risk factor including obesity (BMI>30), dialysis or stage 5 kidney disease (eGFR <15 mL/min/1.73 m2), diabetes, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability of any severity, sickle cell disease, receiving active cancer treatment, solid organ or stem cell transplant recipients, or 50 and older if First Nations, Inuit or Metis with any of those risk factors
  • Symptomatic people who are under-housed or homeless
  • Symptomatic elementary and secondary students and education staff who have received a PCR self-collection kit through their school
  • Symptomatic/asymptomatic people who are from First Nation, Inuit, and Metis communities and individuals travelling into these communities for work
  • Symptomatic/asymptomatic people on admission/transfer to or from hospital or congregate living setting
  • High-risk contacts and asymptomatic/symptomatic people in the context of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in highest risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, other congregate living settings and institutions, and other settings as directed by the local public health unit
  • Individuals, and one accompanying caregiver, with written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager of OHIP
  • Asymptomatic testing in hospital, long-term care, retirement homes and other congregate living settings and institutions as per provincial guidance and/or directives, or as directed by public health units

If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history, if applicable.

COVID-19 assessment and testing

COVID-19 FAQs

COVID-19 self-assessment

COVID-19 Vaccine

Public Health news and notices

Return to school

Waterloo Region COVID-19 summary

Submit a COVID-19 complaint Submit a COVID-19 question

On this page

Background

Region of Waterloo Public Health continues to work closely with local hospitals, health care partners, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and many community partners to respond to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Waterloo Region.

For more information visit the Ministry of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Vaccines

Safe and reliable vaccines can help protect you and your family from COVID-19. They will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus. For more information visit our COVID-19 vaccine page.

Everyone in Waterloo Region born in 2009 or earlier can get a vaccine.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild - like the flu and other common respiratory infections - to severe. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you have any symptoms use the self-assessment tool. The screening tool will help determine if you need to seek care, or testing, based on your symptoms. Follow the instructions in the tool. 

Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home. 

Symptoms that get worse

If you have symptoms that get worse, such as a cough or fever:

  • Call your health care provider (if applicable)
  • Call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000
  • If Telehealth and your health care provider are both closed/unavailable, call ahead before going to the hospital emergency department

Severe symptoms

If you have severe symptoms such as severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, confusion, or loss of consciousness:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the hospital emergency department and advise them of your symptoms and travel history, if applicable

You do not need a phone assessment by Region of Waterloo Public Health to access appropriate healthcare from your health care provider or an emergency department if you are experiencing severe symptoms. Always call ahead when seeking care.

Treatment

Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home. 

For treatment at home you should:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough
  • self-isolate

Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT)

Rapid antigen testing may be used for:

  • routine, repeated screening of people with no symptoms to identify and prevent cases of COVID-19 in hospitals.
  • long-term care and retirement homes, and other high-risk settings as an added layer of safety.
  • people with symptoms to find out the likelihood that their symptoms are related to COVID-19.

If you or someone you live with gets a positive result on a rapid antigen test, you no longer need to book a PCR test to confirm your results. If you are fully vaccinated and otherwise healthy, or are under 12 years old, isolate for five days starting when the symptoms began or from the date of the test, whichever came first. Those who are not fully vaccinated or are immunocompromised must isolate for 10 days.

A positive RAT result:

  • is a good indication that you have COVID-19
  • does not need to be confirmed by a PCR test
  • does not need to be reported to a public health unit unless otherwise directed by public health

A negative RAT result:

  • on a single test cannot rule out COVID-19 infection by itself
  • if you have symptoms, an initial negative test should be followed by a second test 24 to 48 hours later if available. If your second test taken within 48 hours of your first negative result is also negative, this most likely means you do not have COVID-19covid 19

If you feel unwell but do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you and your household should isolate until your symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if the symptoms affect the digestive system).

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating at home includes:

  • Staying at home
  • No visitors in your home unless essential (e.g. caregivers) 
  • Avoiding contact with others, including others in your home
    • Have food brought to you
    • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible
    • If a separate bathroom is not an option, clean all surfaces with a disinfectant after use 
  • Keeping at least two metres distance between yourself and others
  • Washing your hands and covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve

Region of Waterloo Public Health has a Safe Voluntary Isolation Site to support individuals who are unable to isolate safely at home. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, visit our Safe Voluntary Isolation Site webpage.

This project is made possible through funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. 
Ce projet est rendu possible grâce au financement de l’Agence de la santé publique du Canada.

How to protect yourself

Waterloo Region residents should consider COVID-19 to be circulating in the community. 

The following everyday actions can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses like COVID-19, including variants of concern:

  • Only have close contact with your household members, or one other household, exclusively, if you live alone
  • Avoid indoor gatherings, visit with other households outdoors
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wear a face covering
  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces and crowded places

If you develop any symptoms stay home, isolate from household members and schedule an appointment for testing.

Physical distancing

We encourage all residents to practice physical distancing (also known as social distancing). Physical distancing means keeping a distance of two metres between yourself and others when you leave your home as well as limiting the number of people you come into close, unprotected, contact with. 

Only have close contact (without physical distance or face coverings) with your household members. If you live alone, you can consider having close contact with one other household you trust. You must keep two metres from people outside of your household.

Physical distancing includes, but is not limited to:

  • Limiting non-essential trips out of your home
  • Maintaining a distance of two metres (two arms' length) between yourself and anyone outside of your household
  • Limiting group gatherings 
  • Connecting with family and friends by phone, video chat or social media
  • Working from home where possible
  • Staying home when you are sick

Members of the same household do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick or have travelled within the past 14 days.

When you leave your home, make sure to avoid crowds and keep a distance of two metres (two arms' length) between yourself and others at all times. 

These measures help protect yourself and others in our community.

Staying healthy during COVID-19

  • Adults and COVID-19
    • Information about healthy eating, managing stress, physical activity, pregnancy, breastfeeding and more
  • Children/Teens and COVID-19
    • Information about healthy eating, managing stress, physical distancing, physical activity and more

Social determinants of health

For information about social determinants of health that impact the distribution of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, review the following presentations:

Resources

General information
Living with or caring for someone who is sick
Stakeholder bulletins

Translated resources

For more resources in translation visit the Immigration Partnership.

How to self-isolate at home
Know the facts about COVID-19
Physical distancing
Reduce the spread of COVID-19 - Wash your hands
School and child care screening tool

For additional languages, visit COVID-19 school and child care screening tool in other languages.

This website has a built in translation feature that can translate any page on the website into one of over 90 languages. Watch the video "How to use the Google Translate feature."

Frequently Asked Questions

Review our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

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