Ontario Significantly Enhancing COVID-19 Screening Measures and SupportsPublished on March 23, 2020
TORONTO — With the increasing severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario has now launched an enhanced and interactive self-assessment tool. This new easy-to-use tool takes the public through a series of questions to inform those who are concerned they may have contracted COVID-19. In a matter of seconds, this tool will help people determine if they are negative or it will provide them with guidance on where to seek care based on their needs. Critically, the enhanced tool provides the province with real-time data on the number and geography of users who are told to seek care, self-isolate or to monitor for symptoms. This data will help inform Ontario's ongoing response in order to keep individuals and families safe.
"I encourage anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms or may have travelled outside of Canada to first self-isolate and then take a few seconds to complete our new online assessment tool," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This easy-to-use tool, developed with guidance from Dr. Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, is a great first step in that process. By answering a few questions, Ontarians will be able to make informed choices about what to do, while the province collects real-time data to enhance our ongoing response."
The tool guides individuals through a series of questions and, based on their responses, users are provided clear direction on what action to take. These next steps could include: continue to practice social distancing; self-isolate; call a primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario; or in the case of symptoms such as severe difficulty breathing or severe chest pain, call 911 or go to the emergency department.
Those people whose self-assessment shows they may have COVID-19 will be advised to call their primary care provider, who can conduct a virtual assessment by phone or other technology. People can also call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 (24/7), where they can speak to a health care professional about their symptoms. As announced last week, the province is rapidly expanding service capacity to ensure timely responses and has increased Telehealth's line capacity to more than 2,000 to help manage the high daily call volume.
In some cases, based on the virtual assessment, individuals may be referred by their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario to one of the province's 58 assessment centres for an in-person assessment. These centres, which are by referral only, are helping to ease the pressures on hospital emergency departments using innovative care models, including in some cases drive-thru testing.
As part of the investment of up to $304 million to enhance the province's response to COVID-19, Ontario will be establishing additional assessment centres across the province. The centres are located in dedicated spaces, which will facilitate high-quality care to protect broader patient populations. The 58 centres that have already opened are in several municipalities across the province.
Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
- Ontarians should be practising social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of your immediate families.
- Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada should:
- Self-isolate for 14 days when they return. People who are self-isolating should not go to work.
- Monitor themselves for symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus for 14 days after returning to Canada.
- Contact their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 if they experience symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
- To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, wash your hands often, cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, and stay home if you are feeling sick.
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- Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
- Learn about travel advisories related to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
- If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents.