Last update March 21, 2021
Human coronaviruses are quite common, usually similar to the common cold, and can spread easily between people.
On December 31, 2019, health authorities in China identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as 2019-nCoV), after several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. On February 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization named the new illness COVID-19, where COVI stands for coronavirus, D stands for disease and 19 represents 2019, the year it was first identified.
COVID-19 can spread by direct contact or when the droplets from a cough or a sneeze from an infected person are breathed in by anyone who is close to the infected person.
At this time, several new variants of concern (VOCs) are circulating in Ontario with the B1.1.7 VOC being the most prevalent. VOCs are transmitted similar to original strain but many describe them as more transmissible. The same public health measures and vaccinations are effective at preventing against VOCs spread.
Symptoms may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 14 days, after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. *This time period may be updated as new information becomes available.
The infections are diagnosed by a specific laboratory test. See the Symptoms & Seeking Healthcare page for more details.
See our ''Stop the Spread' page for ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent, CK Public Health recommends that ALL residents practice physical distancing.
What is Physical Distancing?
Physical distancing is about taking steps to limit the number of people we come into close physical contact with to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's working together as a community to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities, especially people who are at increased risk, such as older adults and people with chronic health issues.
Here are ways you can practice physical distancing:
- Stay home whenever possible;
- Avoid non-essential trips into the community (i.e. only go to medical appointments, pharmacy, get groceries, walk pets, or support vulnerable community members)
- Use takeout or delivery services when possible;
- If going into the community:
- leave 2-metres (the length of a hockey stick) between you and others;
- try to go during off-peak hours;
- call to ask neighbours if they need anything;
- wash your hands or use 70% alcohol hand sanitizer frequently.
- Avoid close contact with people outside your household
- Avoid bringing children together in groups (includes hanging out with friends, playdates, childcare in groups);
- Avoid in-person gatherings with friends/family outside your designated household. This also means gathering in people's homes;
- Arrange with employers to work from home when possible. Every workplace is different. Get in touch with your employer if you have questions about work arrangements;
- If working at home is not possible, space should be kept between all staff (at least 2 meters);
- Hold meetings virtually instead of in-person;
- Avoid hugs, handshakes, and other direct contact with others outside your designated household.
The decision to order physical distancing is not taken lightly. There are consequences for individuals, families, and communities. But, the restrictions to individual freedoms are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If social distancing measures are taken seriously, the benefits outweigh the consequences.
What can you do while physical distancing?
If you do not have symptoms and have not travelled, there are many ways to stay healthy and active while practicing social distancing.
- Go outside to take a walk, while keeping the 2-meter distance from others outside your designated household;
- Explore delivery services available in Chatham-Kent or shop in off-peak hours;
- Check in on family and neighbours by phone or other technology options;
- Instead of a handshake you can smile, wave, or air hug to say hello;
- Make sure to keep 2 meters apart from others when going out into the community.
One of the most important benefits of social distancing is slowing the spread of infection to make sure our healthcare system is able to keep up.
Remember: Even though you might not feel sick and these measures are an inconvenience, social distancing is a way to protect each other. Please be mindful of the members of our community who are more at risk to COVID-19.
For More Information:
Public Health Ontario Physical Distancing Fact Sheet
Government of Canada's Social Distancing Infographic
Government of Canada's Éloignement physique
Face coverings will be required in all public spaces in Ontario.
Please see our face covering page to learn how to safely wear a mask.
Wearing a mask is only one aspect in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Please continue to abide by the following public health measures:
- Maintain physical distancing of two metres at all times
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol frequently
- Stay home (not going into the community or to work) if you’re not feeling well, and get tested for COVID-19.
Gloves are a very important piece of personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers. Gloves do not need to be worn by community members during daily activities such as grocery shopping.
Gloves can give us a false sense of security and if not used properly, can put us at increased risk for spreading infection. Gloves are meant to be used for one task and then thrown away properly. Wearing the same pair of gloves for long periods of time or for multiple tasks is not effective. For gloves to be used safely, we would have to change them frequently in between tasks. To use this many single-use, disposable gloves when hand hygiene is a better alternative is bad for the environment and the global shortage of protective supplies for healthcare workers.
Gloves cannot replace hand hygiene, and this is the most effective way to get rid of the virus if it does get on our hands.
It is important to remember that the virus does not get into our body through our skin. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 enters our body through mucus membranes (our eyes, nose, and mouth) through respiratory droplets from a person who has the virus. However, the average person touches their face more than 20 times per hour. If someone touches their face with gloves on, they are still at risk for spreading infection.
On March 26, the Government of Canada announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. THIS IS MANDATORY. Travellers are at higher risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.
Anyone permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order, with the exception of certain people who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services. People who are exempt from the Order must practice physical distancing and self-monitor for symptoms, stay in their place of residence as much as possible, and follow the instructions of their local public health authority if they feel sick.
Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
For more information see our Information for Travellers section.
The following people should self-isolate:
- Anyone who has returned from outside of Canada whether or not they you have symptoms of COVID-19. THIS IS MANDATORY;
- Anyone who has a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection, does not need to be hospitalized, and a medical practitioner has told to recover at home;
- Anyone who has been tested or assessed for COVID-19 infection by a healthcare provider and are awaiting results or still have symptoms;
- Anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) should return home and self-isolate immediately;
- People over 70 years or age and people who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions are strongly recommended to self-isolate & only leave home or see other people for essential reasons. Where possible, should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.
If you are self-isolating and need care, you should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either by calling your primary care provider’s office or Telehealth Ontario 1.866.797.0000. If you need additional assessment, your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario will direct you to in-person care options.
If you are in close contact with someone who does not have COVID-19, but who was exposed to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to self-isolate. You can self-monitor for 14 days.
For more information on self-monitoring vs self-isolation see the Government of Canada's Know The Difference resource.
See CK Public Health's Current Level page for information about what is required to close and what can open.
CK Public Health staff are working with retail stores to develop practices and procedures that support physical distancing and other safe practices found on our information for workplaces page.
The short answer is: only if you are within 2-metres of someone who has the virus.
The main routes of transmission are through direct contact with an infected person and through droplets which are sneezed or coughed by someone who is infected and then enter someone else’s mouth, nose or eyes. The droplets that hold the virus are only in the air for a short time and travel only a short distance before they are pulled down by gravity. The latest science tells us that someone can only be infected while it’s in the air if they are within 2-metres of the cough or sneeze. This is why we are encouraging people to stay 2-metres away from others.
Longer and more complicated answer: Some evidence is suggesting that some situations could cause airborne or aerosol transmission. Physical settings with poor air circulation, and with crowds of people performing riskier behaviours (singing and speaking loudly without masks for instance) could be possible.
READ FULL REPORT OF ROUTES OF TRANSMISSION from Public Health Ontario
No, although research continues, there is no treatment or cure for COVID-19. And, the virus can be spread in all areas. The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is cleaning your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and staying 2-meters away from others. If you are spending time in a sweat lodge or sauna, please follow the prevention measures in our Prevent the Spread section and the infection prevention measures in our Resources for Healthcare Professionals & Service Providers section. And, drink lots of water.
While it may not seem like much, your efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have a big impact. You help stop the spread when you:
- wash your hands frequently;
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow;
- avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;
- disinfect frequently touched surfaces;
- practice physical distancing & self-isolate when you should;
- share facts from good sources of information (like CK Public Health, the Governments of Ontario and Canada);
- help friends, family and neighbours who are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 (i.e. people who are 70 years or older or who have compromised immune system).
Learn more about how you can help stop the spread!
You may also consider connecting with local nonprofits to find out how to support friends, neighbours and community members affected by COVID-19.
Health care providers can sign up to help on the Health Workforce Matching Portal.
SPARK and the Government of Ontario are connecting volunteers with community response efforts to the COVID-19 Pandemic here.
COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it affects pregnant women. There is currently no evidence that suggests pregnant women are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that a developing child could be negatively affected by COVID-19.
For more information visit: