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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an acute respiratory infection caused by a coronavirus strain that began spreading in people in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is a new respiratory virus and it can cause mild to severe illness in people. The COVID-19 virus is not the same as the other coronaviruses that commonly circulate among people and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

How COVID-19 Spreads


COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person, through close contact with others and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how influenza also spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

The virus can also spread when someone touches an object or surfaces with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, face, or eyes.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include

  • Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater)
  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)

Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include

  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • New olfactory or taste disorder(s)
  • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Runny nose, or nasal congestion – in absence of underlying reason for these symptoms such as seasonal allergies, post nasal drip, etc.

Other signs of COVID-19 can include

  • Clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia

Atypical symptoms can include

  • Unexplained fatigue/malaise/myalgias
  • Delirium (acutely altered mental status and inattention)
  • Unexplained or increased number of falls
  • Acute functional decline
  • Exacerbation of chronic conditions
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Croup
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Multisystem inflammatory vasculitis in children
    • Presentation may include persistent fever, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea vomiting and diarrhea) and rash


COVID-19 infections are diagnosed by a health care provider, based on the symptoms, and are confirmed through laboratory tests.


Individuals with COVID-19 should drink plenty of fluids (stay hydrated) and get plenty of rest. To prevent an infection, it is best to avoid exposure to the virus.

On December 9, 2020, Health Canada authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada and more information about the COVID-19 vaccines for Ontario is provided by the Government of Ontario.

For more information:


COVID-19 test and testing location information

You were tested for COVID-19: What you should know

COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance UpdateFR

COVID-19 Testing Locations

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Last modified: 
Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 2:14pm