Coronavirus FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQS

If you have questions related to COVID-19 case or contact testing and isolation guidance, call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Information line at 1-888-777-0730, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday.

To book a vaccine appointment, please visit COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario.

Testing

Who can I talk to if I have questions? 

For information on testing eligibility please check who is eligible for PCR or rapid POC molecular testing.

If you have questions related to COVID-19 case or contact testing and isolation guidance, call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Information line at 1-888-777-0730, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday. 

Can I be tested for COVID-19? 
For information on testing eligibility please please check who is eligible for PCR or rapid POC molecular testing
How do I use a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)? 

For guidance on how to properly conduct and read a rapid antigen test, please consult the manufacturer instructions specific to the test you are using, please see resources by test type.

To review instructions on how to collect a sample, please visit, how to collect a sample.

To watch a video on how to use a rapid antigen test, please watch at-home antigen self-screening video

Where can I get a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)? 

Please check get a free rapid test kit to identify if a retailer near you has free test kits available.

For more information on rapid test, please check rapid testing for at-home use

What should someone do after they are tested? 

Visit COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Waterloo Region page for more information about testing.

Refer to what to do if you have been exposed information on the Province of Ontario website for information on isolation based on your situation, including if you have symptoms or tested positive. 

How do I get my test results? 

Please visit the Ontario COVID-19 Test Results webpage to access your COVID-19 PCR test results.

If you cannot access test results through this site, contact the testing location, your doctor or health care provider. 

Do I need to be retested after self-isolation? 

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and have completed your self-isolation requirements, you do not need to receive a negative test before returning to work or school (unless otherwise directed by Public Health).

For most cases, the self-isolation requirements can be found at what to do if you have been exposed on the Province of Ontario website. 

Can I get a letter from Public Health after testing positive? 

Region of Waterloo Public Health is not providing letters for test results, return to work or school, travel or medical procedures for individuals who are not currently monitored by Region of Waterloo Public Health.

You can speak with your health care provider, or a health care provider at a walk-in clinic, if you require a letter as described above. If you are eligible for an end of isolation letter by Public Health, you will be asked to provide email consent, and your request will be reviewed. 

Can I get a letter from Public Health after testing positive before an upcoming medical procedure? 

Please contact your healthcare provider to clarify your requirements before upcoming procedures.

Region of Waterloo Public Health is not providing letters for test results, return to work or school, travel or medical procedures for individuals who are not currently monitored by Region of Waterloo Public Health. 

When can I resume asymptomatic screening after previously testing positive for COVID-19 on a RAT or PCR test?

For those eligible, individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 may resume asymptomatic RAT screening testing after 30 days from their test result or symptom onset.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases may continue to test positive by molecular testing even after clearance from isolation. Re-testing within 90 days after clearance of a confirmed case should be based on clinical indications for testing (e.g. in the context of new COVID-19 symptoms) or as directed in the context of a new exposure or outbreak investigation, according to the Provincial Testing Guidance.

Please Note: Individuals who live, work or visit congregate living settings (Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, Group Homes), should follow up with their facility about testing eligibility, as the above direction may differ from sector-specific guidance. 

Transmission

Who can I talk to if I have questions? 
If you have questions related to COVID-19 case or contact testing and isolation guidance, call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Information line at 1-888-777-0730, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday. 
I have had contact with someone who is sick, what should I do? 

For recommendations on what to do if you’ve been exposed, have symptoms or for screening take the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for yourself or on behalf of someone else.

A full list of COVID-19 symptoms and additional guidance can be found on the what to do if you have been exposed webpage.  

What do I do if I have symptoms? 
To get the latest information on what you need to do to protect yourself and others please check what to do if you have been exposed. For recommendations on what to do if you’ve been exposed, have symptoms or for screening take the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for yourself or on behalf of someone else. For schools/child care, please refer to the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool
If someone in my house is self-isolating or getting tested, do all members need to self-isolate? 
To get the latest information on what you need to do to protect yourself and others please check what to do if you have been exposed. For recommendations on what to do if you’ve been exposed, have symptoms or for screening take the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for yourself or on behalf of someone else. 
I am a parent with shared custody of my children, and there are positive cases, symptoms, or exposures involved. What should I do? 

Follow public health guidance if you or your child have COVID-19, symptoms, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Please check what to do if you have been exposed on the Province of Ontario website for guidance.

For schools/child care, please refer to the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool.

Public Health advises individuals to follow general principles regarding isolation advice. If an individual needs to self-isolate, exposure to others should be limited to prevent COVID-19 spread.

Region of Waterloo Public Health is not able to provide parents with legal advice on their family law obligations, including those established by an agreement or court order. If you think a parent with whom you share parenting responsibilities is not taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 you may wish to consider obtaining legal advice.

For more legal information or support:

  • Legal Aid Ontario: 1-800-668-8258
  • Law Society of Ontario: 1-855-947-5255
  • Law Society Referral Service: 1-800-668-7380 
Will someone contact me if I had contact with someone who tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

Public Health will no longer be following up directly with any cases or contacts identified in settings such as workplaces, events, public settings, and sports teams. Cases will be advised to notify their workplaces and other settings themselves. For COVID-19 resources for workplaces please refer to the Region of Waterloo Coronavirus resources for workplaces webpage.

Public Health will continue to prioritize higher risk situations such as outbreaks, and for the following settings:

  • Long-term care, retirement homes and congregate care
  • Health care
  • Home care
  • Emergency services 
Can I go for a walk if I am required to self-isolate? 

If you have been instructed to self-isolate, please continue to follow the guidelines outlined in the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

If the case must leave the home, they should travel in a private vehicle if possible. If this is not possible, the case should wear a medical mask, keep distance from others in the vehicle (e.g., sit in the backseat) and if possible and weather permitting, open the windows to increase air exchange in the vehicle.

The case may leave their home for independent outdoor exercise (or with a caregiver, as appropriate), but should maintain physical distance of at least two metres (six feet) from others at all times. The case should not go to outdoor fitness classes or personal training sessions and should wear a mask in common areas when leaving the property if self-isolating in an apartment building, condo or hotel.

If you are self-isolating and need to get groceries or other essential items, you can ask a friend, neighbour or family member to buy your items and drop them off on your doorstep. Many grocery stores are also now offering delivery services. If you have a need for emergency food, please contact the Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Personal protection

How can I protect myself? 
For more information on how to layer protection from COVID-19, refer to How to Protect yourself from COVID-19 fact sheet. 
Can I get repairs in my home while isolating? 
Please check the Public Health Ontario How to Self-isolate resource for the most up to date information regarding isolation requirements. 
Do I need to wear a face mask? 

Refer to Ontario face coverings and face masks page. For more information on face masks and the face covering by-law please visit, Face Covering By-law page.

For those who are COVID-19 cases or contacts, refer to what to do if you have been exposed

Workplaces

What should I do if someone at my workplace or business tests positive? 

For current information on COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines, please visit Coronavirus resources for workplaces page.

For recommendations on what to do if you’ve been exposed take the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool, and check what to do if you have been exposed

When can I return to work? 

To determine if you should self-isolate and for how long, complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. For guidance on how to self-isolate, see how to self-isolate.

If you think you may have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, please follow the guidelines at what to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19.

Please follow the direction given by your employer, as your workplace may have COVID-19 policy in place. 

Where can I find information for employers about keeping the workplace safe? 
Visit Coronavirus resources for workplaces for more information. 
What do I need to do if our workplace has a positive case? 
Public health measures can be implemented in the workplaces to prevent the spread of the virus causing COVID-19. Please visit Coronavirus resources for workplaces and the Public Health Agency of Canada website for workplace strategies on COVID-19 mitigation
Does Public Health notify a workplace when a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been at the workplace? 
Public Health will not notify a workplace when a confirmed case attended a workplace while infectious and there was a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 to others. Please visit Coronavirus resources for workplaces and the Public Health Agency of Canada website for workplace strategies on COVID-19 mitigation

Safe Voluntary Isolation Program

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. 

What is the safe, voluntary isolation program? 

The Safe Voluntary Isolation Site is a safe place for you to stay to help you rest and recover, and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within your home and in the community. There are no costs to you to stay at the isolation site. The site is private and welcoming, with many comforts of home. It is a hotel, not a medical setting.

If you need a space to isolate to protect yourself or others from COVID-19, consider applying for the isolation site.

Visit the Safe Voluntary Isolation Site webpage for more information. 

Can I use the safe, voluntary isolation site? 

You are eligible to use the isolation site if you:

  • Need to isolate to protect yourself or others from COVID-19
  • Cannot safely isolate in your own home
  • Are a resident of Waterloo Region
  • Do not require onsite medical support

There are other isolation programs available:

  • If you are experiencing homelessness - contact Housing Helpline: 519-624-9133
  • If you are returning from international travel - visit the Federal Quarantine Sites webpage

If you are eligible, you can apply by:

  • Completing the online form or
  • Calling the isolation site team: 226-753-3089

Visit the Safe Voluntary Isolation Site webpage for more information. 

Travel

For information on travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, please check Government of Canada COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders.

COVID-19 Variants

What is a variant? 

Over time, the genetic material in a virus often changes through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur.

For more information on COVID-19 variants visit COVID-19 variants

What do we know about the variants? 
For more information on COVID-19 variants visit COVID-19 variants.  
How can I find out what variant I had? 

At this time, Region of Waterloo Public Health may not be able to confirm which exact variant of concern you may have had based on your confirmed PCR test result, or been exposed to, based on current Public Health Ontario Laboratory practices regarding SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 Virus) Variant of Concern (VoC) Screening and Genomic Sequencing Surveillance.

For more information about variants, refer to COVID-19 variants.  

Social gatherings

For more information visit COVID-19 public health measures and advice, and COVID-19: Stop the spread

How do I celebrate holidays safely? 
For more information check COVID-19: Stop the spread

Information for tenants and landlords

Recommendations for tenants 

For more information visit COVID-19 public health measures and advice, and COVID-19: Stop the spread.

Tenants should take measures to help stop the spread of germs

Recommendations for landlords 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, continue to clean common spaces using regular cleaning and disinfecting regimes.

In addition to regular cleaning and disinfecting regimes landlords and property managers can take the following steps to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in your building:

General

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory infection first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. 

For additional information on COVID-19, please see Coronavirus disease.

What are the symptoms associated with Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild illness - like the flu and other common respiratory infections - to severe. The full list of COVID-19 symptoms can be found at what to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19.

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. 

Where can I find the most up-to-date information about COVID-19?
For reliable, up-to-date information you may consult the Public Health Agency of Canada or the Ministry of Health. You may also check this webpage or follow us on social media at @ROWPublicHealth for information for Waterloo Region.
How does the virus spread?

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household or health care centre. 

They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

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

Can I call Public Health if I need medical advice or medical care?

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911. Advise them of your symptoms, exposure or travel, if applicable.

For non-emergent health advice, you may also call Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 (toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007) for free advice over the phone.

Public Health does not provide individual medical advice or care. If you have questions or concerns about your general health, or questions about COVID-19 symptoms, please speak with your health care provider, walk-in clinic/urgent care centre or a local emergency room if applicable. 

If you have other questions related to COVID-19 case or contact testing and isolation guidance, call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Information line at 1-888-777-0730, available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Sunday.

When I call Public Health, why am I not able to speak with a nurse?  Can you please explain your process?

Public Health does not provide individual medical advice. When you have questions or concerns about your general health or questions about COVID-19 symptoms, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, or a reaction to the vaccine, please speak with your health care provider, walk-in clinic/urgent care centre or a local emergency room if applicable.

Public Health is required to support case and contact management in highest-risk settings, such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, shelters and hospitals.

You may also call Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 for free advice over the phone.

If you need immediate medical attention you should call 911 and mention your symptoms, exposure or travel.

Those who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines and would like to speak to a medical professional may book a 20 minute phone consult through Scarborough Health Network.

For any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines for youth/children a phone consult can be booked through SickKids.

I have tested negative, how can I get a letter from Public Health so I can return to work?

Region of Waterloo Public Health is not providing letters for negative test results.

Your results, viewed online through the Ministry of Health, may be used with your consent if requested by your employer.

I have questions about sending my child to school. Where can I find more information?

Visit our Return to school page which includes a list of frequently asked questions about going back to school.

Is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) the same as the SARS virus?

Although both viruses are from the same family of virus, Novel Coronavirus is not the same coronavirus that caused SARS in 2003. There were no reported cases of SARS in Waterloo Region in 2003.

What is Grand River Transit doing to respond to COVID-19?

Visit Grand River Transit to learn about how they are responding to Novel Coronavirus

You may also review the Public Health Agency of Canada's Frequently Asked Questions.

Submit a COVID-19 complaint

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