Learn More >

Ministry Status: Activation Status

Emergency Planning and Preparedness

COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease

Last reviewed March 5, 2020
Last updated March 5, 2020

What's New?

The following update was made on March 5, 2020:

  • This page was updated with general information on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in China. A novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease COVID-19) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7 January, 2020.

On 10 January, WHO published a range of interim guidance for all countries on how they can prepare for this virus, including how to monitor for sick people, test samples, treat patients, control infection in health centres, maintain the right supplies, and communicate with the public about this new virus.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Based on currently available information, the WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel or trade. Countries are encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies in line with the International Health Regulations (2005).

There is no vaccine currently available and no specific treatment for this virus.

On January 25, 2020, a presumptive confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced in Ontario in an individual who had recently travelled to Wuhan, China. Further cases have been identified in Ontario, all of which have been traced to affected areas that have ongoing COVID-19 transmission. At this time, the public health risk posed to the people of Ontario by this virus is considered low. This assessment has been made through consideration of the information available at this time, namely:

  • Almost all cases have been linked to countries where ongoing community transmission has been reported.
  • Effective Infection Prevention & Control measures in place in the Ontario health system.

As it is possible that some people who have contracted this virus will travel from the epicenter of the outbreak in China or from other countries with community spread, health care workers in Ontario should consider the possibility of COVID-19 infection in persons who meet the case definitions outlined in the Ministry of Health's Guidance for Health Workers and Health Sector Employers on 2019-nCoV. The ministry will review the case definition and update as appropriate in consultation with Public Health Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The ministry's guidance also provides health care workers and health sector employers with information on laboratory testing and appropriate occupational health & safety and infection prevention & control measures.

To view Portable Document Format PDF files, you will need to have Adobe Acrobat® Reader installed on your computer. You can download this free software from the Adobe website.

For More Information

Ministry of Health
Health System Emergency Management Branch
1075 Bay Street, Suite 810
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5S 2B1
Fax : 416-212-4466
TTY : 1-800-387-5559
E-mail : emergencymanagement.moh@ontario.ca


Health workers and health sector employers can call the Healthcare Provider Hotline for more information
Toll free : 1-866-212-2272

CritiCall Ontario provides a 24 hour call centre for hospitals to contact on-call specialists; arrange for appropriate hospital bed access and facilitate urgent triage for patients

  • Connect With Us
Facebook Twitter YouTube RSS