Public Health Ontario: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Updated April 16, 2020

Important Notice: If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please start by visiting the Ministry of Health website and taking their self-assessment. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.


In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. The situation is rapidly evolving and Public Health Ontario, along with the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak, conducting surveillance and appropriate laboratory testing, and providing public health and infection control guidance.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to cause respiratory illness in humans, particularly during the fall and winter months. Other novel coronaviruses have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

Current Situation in Ontario

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. The number of cases are changing quickly and the provincial and federal governments are rapidly putting in place measures that are precautionary to minimize the risk of exposure and spread.

Since the outset, Public Health Ontario has been conducting laboratory testing and working with healthcare partners to expand testing capacity. We have also been working very closely with the Ministry of Health and local public health units to provide evidence and expertise to inform decisions and policy around surveillance, case and contact management, and infection control.

Please check the Ministry of Health website for additional information about the evolving situation, the provincial response and case numbers.

For more information on the Government of Canada’s response, including travel information and precautions at international airports and borders, visit Health Canada’s website.


For Health Care Providers

For COVID-19 specific guidance including case definitions please refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance. PHO is working closely with the Ministry of Health in the development of a wide variety of resources for those in various sectors and settings, guidance for effective surveillance and the continual review of the provincial case definition. We continue to monitor emerging information to provide timely scientific and technical advice, including summaries of global research. Please refer to the resources and links below.

Laboratory Testing

Please note that requests for testing can only be obtained through a health care provider (e.g., doctor, nurse practitioner, etc) for individuals meeting criteria for testing as outlined by the Ministry of Health. Patients may now view their test results through a provincial online portal. If your results are not available online, please contact the health care provider that ordered your test.

Health care providers should refer to our COVID-19 Test Information Sheet for more information. For additional testing advice and support please contact Public Health Ontario’s Customer Service Centre at 416-235-6556 / 1-877-604-4567.


Select a Type of Resource Most Accessed Fact Sheet or Infographic Guidance and Best Practice Laboratory Testing Presentation Report Research Most Accessed

WEBCAST: COVID-19: Considerations for Long Term Care and Retirement Homes This webinar was recorded on April 15, 2020 and addresses considerations for COVID-19 in both Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes. The webinar discusses infection prevention and control recommendations as well as public health outbreak guidance for these settings. Published 16 April 2020 FACT SHEET: Daily Scan of Selected Public Health Organizations – Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Daily scan of selected national and international public health organizations providing links to COVID-19 guidelines, position statements and situational updates. Updated 15 April 2020 RESEARCH: Synopsis of Key Articles – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) A summary of key COVID-19 articles that are relevant to public health. Updated 15 April 2020

TEST INFORMATION: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Testing Comprehensive instructions for specimen collection, specimen requirements, specimen handling, testing methods and turnaround times. Updated 13 April 2020 REPORT: What We Know So Far About… Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) A brief overview of some of the published and unpublished reports related to emerging issues with respect to the COVID-19. Updated 13 April 2020 GUIDANCE AND BEST PRACTICE: COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative Information and access to training for an expanded COVID-19 contact tracing initiative. Published 8 April 2020 FACT SHEET: COVID-19 Public Resources A collection of COVID-19 factsheets on self-monitoring and self-isolation. Updated 2 April 2020

GUIDANCE AND BEST PRACTICE: iPHIS Resources Resources to support public health units in completing reporting and surveillance of DOPHS in Ontario, including iPHIS User Guides, Quick Reference Documents and Bulletins. Updated 12 March 2020

GUIDANCE AND BEST PRACTICE: COVID-19 Health Care Resources These are posted on our website for reference but the most current versions of all public, public health, and health care guidance can be found on the Ministry of Health's website. Updated 10 April 2020

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