covid 19 virus

Facts about COVID-19

Last Edited/Reviewed: 11:38 a.m., August 25, 2021


Symptoms of COVID-19
How is COVID-19 Treated?
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Prevent the Spread
COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOC)
Who is a Close Contact?
COVID-19 Class Order:  June 24, 2021
What We Know So Far: COVID-19 Transmission Through Large Respiratory Droplets and Aerosols (PHO)
Contact Us

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person. They may also vary in different age groups.

Some of the more commonly reported symptoms include:

  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • feeling feverish
  • chills
  • fatigue or weakness
  • muscle or body aches
  • new loss of smell or taste
  • headache
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • feeling very unwell

Children tend to have abdominal symptoms and skin changes or rashes.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing serious symptoms.

Use this Self Assessment Tool if:

  • you think you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • in the last 14 days you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 who has returned to Canada in the last 14 days

You can infect others even if you aren’t showing symptoms

The virus can be spread to others from someone who’s infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who:

  • haven’t yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic)
  • never develop symptoms (asymptomatic)

This kind of spread is known to happen among those who are in close contact or are in enclosed or crowded settings.

How is COVID-19 treated?

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, self-monitor for any changes and consult your health care provider. They may recommend steps you can take to relieve your symptoms.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect you and those around you from serious illnesses like COVID-19.

Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. This can reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 and make your symptoms milder if you do get it.

COVID-19 vaccination information is changing rapidly in Canada and locally. For more information, check out our vaccine info page.


Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

How is COVID-19 spread?

Respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, spread through respiratory droplets and aerosols from an infected individual when they speak, cough, sneeze, sing, shout, etc.  Respiratory droplets are larger than aerosols and fall more quickly.  Aerosols are smaller particles that can remain suspended in the air for some time.  COVID-19 can spread from person to person by:

  • Breathing in droplets or aerosols from the infected person’s nose and throat secretions after they cough, sneeze, laugh, or sing.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus droplets on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Personal contact with the infected individual such as shaking hands, hugging, or kissing.

The highest risk of transmission is generally close (2-metres and under), unprotected contact with the infected individual.  There is a lower risk of transmission with longer distances greater than 2-metres.  Long distance transmission only occurs under certain conditions, including:

  • Poor ventilation, or recirculation of unfiltered or untreated air. (To learn more on adequate ventilation, click here)
  • Long exposure time.
  • A high viral load.
  • Specific activities promoting increased exhalation/expulsion such as singing, exercising, and shouting.
  • Lack of masking.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.  Visit the COVID-19 Self-Isolation webpage for more information.

The following individuals are required to self-isolate by an order of the Medical Officer of Health:

  • People who are diagnosed with COVID-19, either as a confirmed case or probable case.
  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for COVID-19, and are awaiting the results of the test.
  • People who, within the past 10 days, have had symptoms of COVID-19 but have not had a COVID-19 test since developing those symptoms.
  • People who are a close contact of a person identified above, even if they themselves do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who have been advised to self-isolate by Peterborough Public Health for any reason, including but not limited to, the reasons outlined above.


What does quarantine mean?

To prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases that are of significant harm to public health, the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborates with border partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency to administer the Quarantine Act at all international points of entry into Canada.

When a traveller shows signs and symptoms of a communicable disease upon arrival in Canada, a Border Services Officer, is the first point of contact and he or she will conduct a preliminary screening of the traveler.

If deemed necessary, a Public Health Agency of Canada Quarantine Officer will implement various control measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable disease.

What are the Precautions for Returning Travellers?

For Canadians who have RECENTLY TRAVELLED

The Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travelers arriving in Canada in order to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.


If you have recently returned to Canada and have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.

Mandatory isolation means you MUST:

  • Go directly to the place where you will isolate, without delay, and stay there for 14 days
  • Go to your place of isolation using private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle
  • Stay INSIDE your home
  • Not leave your place of isolation unless it’s to seek medical attention
  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis)
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible
  • Not have visitors and limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children
  • Not isolate in a place where you will have contact with vulnerable people such as older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions
  • If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority and follow their instructions.

If you have symptoms but do not have a place to isolate, you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

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.

TRAVELLERS WITHOUT SYMPTOMS – Mandatory Quarantine (mandatory self-isolation)

If you have recently returned to Canada and have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE (self-isolate) yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.

This means you MUST:

  • Go directly to your place of quarantine, without delay, and stay there for 14 days
  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas and community settings
  • Monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Arrange to have someone pick up essentials like groceries or medication for you
  • Do not have visitors
  • Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air
  • Keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others

Where possible, use only private transportation such as a private vehicle to reach your place of quarantine. If you must take public transportation to get to your place of self-isolation after you arrive in Canada, you must not stop on the way home and practice physical (social) distancing at all times.


Contact Us

  • Call Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000 between
    • Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Email (email will be responded to during business hours above)
  • After hours please call Telehealth toll-free at 1-866-797-0000. Telehealth is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.