Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last reviewed/updated: 12:13 PM March 27, 2020

Peterborough Public Health is actively monitoring the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and collaborating with local hospitals, primary care, emergency services, the Ministry of Health, provincial and national colleagues.

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Local COVID-19 Cases & Status
Click here for the latest local information.

If you think you have symptoms related to COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care:  Self Assessment Tool

COVID-19 can be spread from person to person through:

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Contact with nose and throat secretions (e.g., coughing and sneezing).
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

Signs and symptoms may include fever and/or respiratory symptoms such as:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19.  However many of the symptoms can be treated and is based on each individual’s situation.

Currently there is no vaccine for COVID-19.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community, Peterborough Public Health encourages everyone to practice physical distancing. Physical distancing means avoiding close contact (being within 2 metres or 6 feet) with people outside of your immediate family. 

Limit contact with others

  • Stay at home and reduce the number of visits into your community:
    • Limit the number of times you go shopping for groceries and other essential errands. Make a list and plan ahead, try to combine these when you can!
    • Consider alternative ways to work if possible (work from home, meetings by video or teleconference)
  • Stay physically active! Take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog – just maintain a distance of 2 metres from those around you.  For young children, avoid playground structures.
  • Cancel all group gatherings. Connect with friends by phone, email, video or social media.  No parties or playdates for children or teenagers.
  • Do not visit friends or family in long-term care homes, retirement homes or other care settings
  • If you are over 70 or immunocompromised, you should self-isolate (see next tab for further details). Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.

Keep Your Hands Clean

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Cough into your sleeve or elbow, or sneeze into a tissue, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Wash your hands after handling nose and throat secretions (e.g. after throwing out used facial tissues).
  • Avoid touching your face and clean hands before touching eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Sanitize or wash your hands when entering and exiting buildings.
  • Use tap to pay rather than handling money


Physical Distancing Poster
Physical Distancing Fact Sheet – Ottawa Public Health

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.

You may have been asked to self-isolate due to a potential exposure, but have not developed any symptoms.  This is when you monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough and difficulty breathing.


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.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your face and clean hands before touching eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cough into your sleeve or elbow, or sneeze into a tissue, and encourage others to do the same. Remember to wash your hands after handling a used tissue.
  • Sanitize your dishes and utensils after use, either by running them through a dishwasher or using a bleach solution.
  • Do not share water bottles, straws, eating utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, toys or anything else that has been in contact with saliva, nose or throat secretions.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, especially those that are high-touch areas (e.g., toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones, television remotes, etc.)


Handwashing Tip Sheet – Public Health Ontario

Peterborough Public Health Programs/Services
Peterborough Public Health has reduced and/or suspended certain programs and services, click here for a current list.

On March 23, 2020, the Province announced a list of essential workplaces that can remain open.

On March 16, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health announced:
- the closure of all recreation programs and libraries, all private schools, all daycares, all churches and other faith settings;
- the closure of all bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms; and,
- advice to avoid large gatherings of over 50 people - for more information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website for guidance related to mass gatherings.

Farmer's Markets
Peterborough Public Health is working with the Peterborough Regional Farmer's Market to ensure community residents can access this source of local food in a safe manner.  Please see this statement for details.

Grocery Stores

Grocery stores are an essential service and are permitted to remain open. Public Health Inspectors are conducting site visits to discuss social distancing, infection control measures, and best practices with store managers. Many grocery stores have received direction from their corporate head offices and are implementing measures including barricades, limitations to the number of people entering the store, markings on the floor for cashier lineups, techniques or physical barriers to protect cashiers, etc. The number of people permitted in a grocery store at once depends on the size of the store, and the ability to maintain physical distancing. A 100,000 square foot store will be able to accommodate more people than a 50,000 square foot store. Grocery stores are monitoring and preventing people from entering the store if numbers become high. Crowd control is especially important in the lobby areas where shoppers obtain carts since these areas are often quite condensed. We are encouraging shoppers to only go to the grocery store for essential needs, and not at all if you are required to be in self-isolation. If you do need to attend the store, perform hand hygiene frequently, keep physical distance from others, avoid paying with cash and be efficient with your shopping – get in and get out.

If you have a concern about a specific retail location, please email to file a complaint.

It depends. If you are sick with a respiratory infection such as COVID-19, then yes, you should wear a mask to reduce the spread of droplets to others. A surgical mask should be worn while you are travelling to and from health care services or in your home if there are other household caregivers or visiting health care providers present. A mask is NOT a substitution for self-isolation and physical distancing.

If you are healthy, wearing a mask is not effective because they are usually not worn properly. Research has shown that improper use of face masks, such as not changing disposable masks or not handwashing before and after wearing can potentially increase risk of disease transmission. People get sick from COVID-19 because the virus gets on their hands and then people touch their mouth, nose or eyes where the virus can get into your body. Those who are not trained on proper mask use often touch their face when putting it on and taking it off. If you are physical distancing two metres so respiratory droplets can’t reach you and washing your hands frequently, these practices will help protect you better than wearing a mask.

Here’s a video that gives a great explanation:

Will wearing a mask protect you from the coronavirus?

The other reason why you shouldn’t wear a mask if you’re healthy is that mask supplies are running low around the world, and healthcare professionals need them to prevent direct exposure to disease from infected patients.

What about reusable cloth masks?

The effectiveness of reusable cloth masks have not been studied much and would depend on the type of fabric. The are usually made of very porous materials, and again, the same problems with people touching their faces when using them makes them ineffective.

All returning travellers should self-isolate at home for at least 14 days after return home, even if symptom free.

If symptoms (fever and/or cough) develop during this time, please contact Peterborough Public Health 705-743-1000 for further direction and guidance.

How to Self Isolate for Returning Travellers (Factsheet) 

Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from current affected areas are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

  • Call Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000 between
    • Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m to 4:00 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.
  • Do not visit a COVID-19 assessment centre unless you have received a referral from a healthcare provider.

What can individuals and families do to prepare?

It is important to be ready for emergencies—from power outages to infectious diseases. Having supplies on hand for shorter (enough for a minimum of three days) and longer periods of time is important. For example:

  • non-perishable foods (simple to prepare)
  • water: one gallon per person, per day
  • prescription medication
  • simple medical supplies (first aid kit)
  • pet food
  • chargers for cellphones to stay up-to-date on alerts and warnings
  • cleaning supplies
  • sanitary and hygiene supplies

Create a plan based on your needs and daily routines, including having other options for child, elder, and pet care.

  • If someone gets sick, have a care plan. In advance, talk to people who might be able to help.
  • Some people are at greater risk of health complications from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and influenza (for example, older adults and people with certain health conditions). Check in on them and follow the advice from health care providers.
  • Get to know and check in on your neighbours. Stay connected by phone or social media.
  • Identify agencies that may be able to offer help, whether for food, mental health support, or other supplies.
  • Create an emergency contact list, for example, information for doctors, friends, family, community services.

For more information, visit the Government of Canada Being Prepared webpage.

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