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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): What We Know So Far


PLEASE NOTE: To read the Mayor’s statement on what the city is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit this dedicated page, which will be updated daily as new information becomes available. -JB

In the past few days, new cases of COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) in Ontario have been announced. This news may have some local residents concerned about COVID-19’s spread and what the Region of Halton’s and City of Burlington’s plans are in dealing with it.

Halton Region’s Public Health Department is reporting there are currently no reported cases in Halton at this time. The Region also continues to stress that the risk to individuals in Halton, and more broadly in Ontario, remains low. However, if a wider outbreak were to occur, the Region’s Public Health Department is well-positioned to take appropriate action and respond.

Below is some information many residents may find helpful, including some prevention tips.


  • There are no reported cases in Halton region at this time (UPDATE: On March 11, 2020, Halton Region Public Health announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the region).
  • The risk to individuals in Ontario and Halton remains low. However, Halton Region and the City of Burlington are planning for all possible scenarios and will base its response on evidence as the science of COVID-19 continues to emerge.
  • If the situation becomes a pandemic, we are well positioned to be able to take appropriate actions and respond. We have been preparing and working with all levels of government to respond as we heard of the first cases in China.
  • The situation is rapidly evolving and Halton Region Public Health is closely monitoring the situation to ensure preparedness and take action where appropriate to protect the health and safety of our residents.
  • Public Health has learned a lot since SARS and have advanced systems in place to enable rapid response to potential health risks.
  • Halton Region Public Health continues to work closely with local hospitals, the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario to monitor the situation, take important precautionary measures to contain spread of disease and reduce any risk to the public.
  • Halton Region Public Health is communicating to key community partners (such as physicians, long-term care homes and our school boards) on a regular basis.
  • For the latest information about the status of cases in Ontario, please visit For more information about COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention and when to contact Halton Region Public Health, please visit


  • As of Monday, March 2, 2020, there have been 18 confirmed cases in Ontario:
    • The first of three cases in Ontario have since tested negative for COVID-19 and are considered resolved.
    • The most recent Ontario cases are all self-isolating, all public health precautions have been taken and monitoring of these individuals is ongoing until risk of transmission has passed.
    • The fifth case in Ontario, confirmed on Feb. 26, marks the first case in Ontario with travel history outside of China (where the first cases were reported). This individual had recently travelled to Iran.
    • The sixth case, confirmed on Feb. 27, is the husband of the fifth case.
    • In the latest 3 cases, reported on March 2, that bring the total to 18, health officials are saying these are travel-related and those affected are in quarantine.
    • New cases were reported over the weekend, all of them individuals who had recently travelled to Iran or Egypt, or are family members of those who had visited those countries.
    • Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, has said that so far the COVID-19 virus doesn’t appear to be spreading locally.


  • If you have travelled to the Hubei province in China within the last 14 days, please contact Halton Region Public Health by calling 311. Halton Region Public Health recommends you limit your contact with others for a total of 14 days from the date that you left Hubei Province.
  • As of Feb. 25, 2020: If you have travelled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore or South Korea, Halton Region Public Health recommends you to monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If you develop fever or cough or shortness of breath, contact Public Health by calling 311.
  • Contact Halton Region Public Health by calling 311, 905-825-6000 or toll free at 1-866-442-5866 if you have a fever OR cough OR breathing difficulty AND any of the following:
    • travelled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore or South Korea in the 14 days before onset of illness; or
    • close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19; or
    • close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who travelled to affected areas within 14 days prior to their illness onset.
  • Halton Region Public Health will coordinate with local health-care providers to arrange appropriate testing.
  • Anyone with severe symptoms should seek medical attention by calling 911. Please inform 911 of your symptoms and recent travel history to ensure the right infection prevention and control precautions are taken.


  • In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus, now named COVID-19, was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, Hubei, China.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause symptoms similar to the common cold but in some cases can cause more severe respiratory illness.
  • On Jan. 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 infection range from mild to severe respiratory illnesses and include:
    • fever;
    • cough;
    • difficulty breathing;
    • pneumonia and kidney failure.
  • Currently, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 infection but the symptoms can be treated. Most people with COVID-19 infection will have mild illness and will recover on their own. Presently, there is no vaccine available to prevent coronavirus infection.
  • The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, is to:
    • Stay home when ill;
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve;
    • Wash hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub; and
    • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Halton Region Public Health does not recommend wearing a surgical or N95 mask for day-to-day activities.


  • The Government of Canada continues to recommend that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to China and avoid all travel to Hubei province.
  • Travellers coming from mainland China or other affected areas continue to be at an increased risk for COVID-19.
  • You can help limit any potential spread by limiting your contact with others and monitoring for 14 days after the day you left mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore or South Korea.
  • Travellers are reminded to follow usual health precautions, such as washing their hands often, avoiding contact with persons who are sick, and practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Residents should always tell their health-care providers about their travel history if they become ill after returning to Canada.
  • Further travel advice has been communicated by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • Travelers are encouraged to visit their website to get the latest information about international travel, including health risks and what to do upon return if you are feeling ill.


  • The Federal Government is leading repatriation efforts for individuals returning from China and Japan.
  • The first two groups of repatriated Canadians have now been released from quarantine at Canadian Forces base (CFB) Trenton.
  • All of the individuals who have been released remained symptom-free throughout the 14-day quarantine period and do not pose a risk to others as they return to their respective communities.
  • A group of repatriated Canadians from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship are currently quarantined for 14 days in Cornwall.


— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward


*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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