Statement on COVID-19, March 12, 2020

As of Today, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is monitoring 18 positive cases of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) in Toronto. At this time the virus is not circulating locally, and the risk to Torontonians remains low. 

However given the rapidly changing global circumstances, I know that people are concerned and want to do everything they can to avoid infection, and to protect their family, friends and neighbours. 

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus, and the best way to contain the virus is to prevent circulation. Please check the Toronto Public Health website at toronto.ca/coronavirus for the latest information, resources and facts.

For now, the best prevention measures include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Stay home when you are ill
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

It is important to reiterate that COVID-19 is not currently spreading in the community and cases are currently linked to travel. But we also know that in the event of community spread, not everyone in the City of Toronto has the same ability to self-isolate. 

We are only as healthy as our most vulnerable residents, and our responsibility as a community and a city include recognizing the additional challenges COVID-19 could have on our most vulnerable populations who might not have access to housing or regular access to soap and water; those experiencing homelessness and living in our shelters as well as the front line workers.  

To ensure the ongoing health and safety of this population, Toronto Public Health is working directly alongside our health sector partners, Inner City Health Associates, Toronto Public Health and Ontario Health, to provide interim guidance for Homelessness Service Providers. This is to ensure coordination and appropriate medical referral protocols are in place for people experiencing homelessness. These include the development of strategies to safely implement isolation or the separation of ill clients/participants from well clients in the event of community spread. 

The work to support Homelessness Service Providers is supported by the COVID-19 task force, operating out of the City of Toronto’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The EOC  is currently at a Level One activation, which means they are monitoring the current situation, locally and globally, and coordinating internal efforts at the City to ensure it continues to meet the needs of residents and businesses should the activation level change. 

For now, residents are encouraged to exercise heightened awareness and care, but unless you feel ill, we recommend continuing with your regular routines and activities. 

Decisions to postpone, modify, or cancel a mass-gathering event will be made based on thorough risk assessments and advice from Toronto Public Health and health partners.

We know that this situation is changing rapidly, so residents are encouraged to stay informed by regularly reviewing evidence-based, credible sources of information about this situation. 

Please check the Toronto Public Health website at toronto.ca/coronavirus for the latest information, resources and facts.  Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms. Toronto Public Health will continue to keep us updated as new facts are confirmed. Residents are encouraged to stay informed by regularly reviewing evidence-based, credible sources of information about this situation. 

If you need further assistance, you can call the Toronto Public Health Hotline at 416-338-7600 which is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

For free medical advice, please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2