COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
January 5, 2022: The following summary provides basic current information on some questions related to SARS-CoV-2 (caused by the COVID-19 virus) and the Omicron Surge in Ontario. It should not be taken as complete medical, diagnostic, or treatment advice, and where questions remain, please contact your local health care practitioner. Please always search for the most up-to-date information related to COVID-19 from the Ontario government website, which also has multilingual resources: www.Ontario.ca/coronavirus
The COVID-19 virus causes a range of symptoms that vary from person to person. As of January 4, 2022, the following information is from the most recent Ministry of Health reference document for symptoms.
The most common symptoms caused by the COVID-19 virus that require immediate self-isolation (and if eligible, COVID-19 testing) include new or worsening:
- Fever > 37.8˚ C (>100.04˚ F) and/or chills
- Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
- Decrease or loss of smell or taste
Two of more of the following symptoms caused by the COVID-19 virus require immediate self-isolation (and if eligible, COVID-19 testing):
- Extreme fatigue, lethargy, malaise (feeling unwell, lacking in energy)
- Headache (new and persistent, unusual, unexplained, long-lasting)
- Very tired, sore muscles and joints
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
The Omicron variant has led to the current high rates of positivity of COVID19 in Ontario. If you have symptoms, you can presume you have the COVID-19 virus. Immediately self-isolate (further information below) and inform close contacts
Close contacts are those you have been in contact with for a cumulative period of at least 15 minutes or more, less than 2 meters away, while unmasked/without PPE, in the 48 hours before your symptoms began/your positive test result - whichever came first.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed, you can take the Ontario Health self-assessment to help determine next steps.
If you have questions or concerns about managing your symptoms, contact your doctor, the Health & Counselling Centre at UTM (students only: 905-828-5255), or Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) for more information and guidance. If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or decreased consciousness call 911 or go directly to your nearest emergency room.
If I have symptoms of COVID-19, how long do I need to self-isolate?
This partly depends on your vaccination status, your overall health status, your age, where you work/live, etc.
- Effective December 31, 2021: For fully vaccinated individuals, you should isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset, and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), and all public health measures are followed (masking, physical distancing, etc). If you live, volunteer, or work in a high-risk setting (e.g., hospital, long-term care facility), you must notify your employer, and continue to self-isolate for 10 days.
- All people living in the same household, regardless of vaccination status, must self-isolate for the same length of time, even if symptom-free. If people living in the same household develop symptoms within the isolation period or test positive on a rapid antigen test (RAT), they then need to start the self-isolation process for symptomatic individuals (isolation period resets).
- For unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or immunocompromised individuals you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days
- If you live on campus- you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days (as well as all individuals who reside with you). As the length of isolation may change, please ensure to follow the guidance provided by the U of T Occupational Health nurses, and Student Housing and Residence Life staff.
Eligibility for PCR testing has changed. (MOH, December 31, 2021).
- At the present time, because so many people are positive for COVID-19, most people with symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus do not need a COVID test to confirm their diagnosis, but rather should assume they have the virus and start self-isolation
- COVID tests are now being reserved for:
- high-risk settings (e.g. hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, group homes, and others who live in congregate settings, etc);
- and higher-risk individuals (e.g. hospitalized patients, those 70 and over who have certain risk factors, people who are immunocompromised, those who are patient-facing working in healthcare, all individuals who work or volunteer in hospitals/congregate living settings, people who are underhoused or homeless, people who are from Indigenous communities, etc).
If you have access to a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), you can use this to test yourself. However, if you have any of the symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus, a negative RAT does not mean that you do not have COVID. You still need to self-isolate from the start of your symptoms according to the current Ontario guidelines for self-isolation noted above.
Please note that we do not have any rapid antigen tests available in our clinic.
If you test positive on a RAT, with or without symptoms, you should assume you have COVID-19 and self-isolate according to the current Ontario guidelines for self-isolation noted above.
You can also take the Ontario Health self-assessment to determine next steps.
A positive RAT at this time does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test, unless you meet the new provincial criteria for testing (high risk, as noted above).
(*there is separate guidance for individuals who work in highest-risk settings – see page 15 of the Ontario guidance).
You can take the Ontario Health self-assessment to determine next steps.
If you are fully vaccinated and live with the person who is positive for COVID-19,
- self-isolate for at least 5 days from the start of symptoms and until the symptomatic person no longer has fever and their symptoms have been getting better for at least 24 hours (48 hours if the person has gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), whichever is longer. (Please note the minimum isolation period for students living on campus is 10 days, and will be dictated and monitored by the University of Toronto Occupational Health nurses).
- You need to continue to self-monitor for 10 days, even after self-isolation ends. If you subsequently develop symptoms during the period of self-isolation, you then need to follow the isolation instructions for symptomatic individuals, and seek testing if eligible.
If you are fully vaccinated, do not live with the person who is positive for COVID-19, and have symptoms:
- self-isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset, and until your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), whichever is longer. Seek testing if eligible.
If you are fully vaccinated, do not live with the person, and do not have symptoms:
- self-monitor for 10 days from the time of last contact (ensure to continue masking, physical distancing, avoiding high risk persons etc). If you develop symptoms within this period of time, you then need to start the self-isolation process as recommended for presumed cases of COVID19, from the time of symptom onset.
If you are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or immunocompromised, you need to self-isolate for 10 days immediately, even if you get a negative result on a RAT. If you develop symptoms you should then follow the guidance for symptomatic individuals/positive cases.
With the current dominant Omicron variant in Ontario, most individuals will improve from their COVID-19 symptoms using the same home remedies available for the common cold and/or influenza, including getting plenty of rest and fluids, and use of common over-the-counter medications for sore throats, fever, headache, and body aches. If you have any concerns, or your symptoms worsen, you should try to obtain an in-person assessment as quickly as possible, or go to the nearest emergency room/call 911.
If you are a UTM student currently living in Ontario and you have questions or need help managing mild medical symptoms or conditions while isolating at home with COVID-19, please call to consult with a health care professional at the Health & Counselling Centre Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm (until 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays) at 905-828-5255. If the phone goes to voicemail, please leave a detailed message with your name and phone number so that we can call you back.
You can also try your local walk-in clinic, or family doctor’s office.
If it is outside of operational hours for the HCC or other local options, please contact Telehealth (1-866-797-0000), or call your local walk-in clinic with extended hours. – options for students living close to the UTM campus are located here: https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/health/resources/after-hours-walk-clinics
If you live outside Ontario, please consult with your local doctor’s office, or if it is an emergency, go to your nearest emergency room.
If I have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 (either PCR test or RAT), when should I call my health care team?
At any time if you have questions about your symptoms, or how to manage your symptoms at home, please call your family doctor, the Health & Counselling Centre, or Telehealth (1-866-797-0000). Most symptoms that resemble the common cold or influenza will recover with over-the-counter medications, rest, and drinking plenty of fluids. However, symptoms from COVID-19 can get worse rapidly, and you should seek assessment if your symptoms are increasing.
Where to go for an in-person assessment of COVID-19 symptoms: For non-urgent symptoms the Mississauga Health Cough and Flu Clinic and Peal Family Practice are both local options, but you must fill out an appointment request from the websites or call first – please do not show up without an appointment. Please see the following resource: Know where to go if you think you have COVID-19 or the Flu
Urgentcarecentre.ca is another option throughout Peel and surrounding area that may provide an in-person assessment of COVID symptoms, but you must call/visit their website first for a virtual screening.
You should seek an urgent assessment if you:
- Have new or worsening discomfort (pain or pressure) in your chest
- Have new or worsening trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Fever that is persistent for 2 days, and/or not responding to over-the-counter medications
- Have increasing or significant fatigue
- Have a decreased level of consciousness or confusion
- Start feeling better and then get worse again (especially 5-8 days after the start of your symptoms)
- Are feeling lightheaded/dizzy
- Dehydrated (little to no urine output)
- Cold/pale/mottled skin; blue lips or face
- If you have a pulse-oximeter at home and your oxygen level drops by 3% from usual or is below 93% at any time
**If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and cannot get an urgent appointment in the community, please go directly to your nearest emergency room or call 911.
Please go to your closest emergency room or call 911 if you are have any of the following symptoms:
- Severe chest pain
- Severe shortness of breath
- Continuous vomiting and inability to drink any fluids, fever not responding
- Reduced consciousness
- Serious trauma or injuries (i.e., bleeding that won’t stop, deep cuts, broken bones)
- Sudden loss of vision
- Sudden onset weakness of the face or arm/leg
- Sudden inability to walk or talk
Medical Support in Ontario
Students who are symptomatic and currently living in Ontario and wish to speak to a health care professional can contact the HCC Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm (until 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays) at 905-828-5255. If the phone goes to voicemail, please leave a detailed message with your name and phone number so that we can call you back. Other options include your family doctor’s office, a local walk-in clinic, or Telehealth (1-866-797-0000).
Mental Health Support in Ontario
Students who are looking for mental health supports and are currently living in Ontario can contact the HCC Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm (until 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays) at 905-828-5255. If the phone goes to voicemail, please leave a detailed message with your name and phone number so that we can call you back. Other options include MySSP (1-844-451-9700), Good2Talk (Telephone: 1-866-925-5454; Text: 686868), or if it is a mental health crisis, please go to your nearest emergency room or contact 911.
Outside of Ontario
Medical: Consult your local doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, or emergency department if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and need assistance.
Mental Health: If you are currently living outside of Ontario, but within North America, and need mental health supports you can contact MySSP at 1-844-451-9700. If you are living outside of North America you can contact MySSP at 001-416-380-6578.
Additional Community Supports and Resources
If you need access to other sorts of support while you are in self-isolation, please visit COVID-19: Support for people. People can also contact Peel Public Health for many additional, local support options.
To learn more about COVID-19, and to receive the most up-to-date information about the virus, please access the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 resource webpage: www.Ontario.ca/coronavirus
Individuals aged 18 and over can now schedule their booster (third) dose appointment if it has been at least 84 days since your 2nd dose. The vaccines are free with no cost to the public. You do not need a health card to get the vaccine. If you have not yet received your first or second dose you can also book for these as well. COVID-19 vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization due to the COVID-19 virus, including the Omicron variant of concern.
Please note that as of January 7, 2022, if you received COVID-19 vaccinations outside of Canada that are not from the Health-Canada approved vaccination list, you are only eligible for 1 dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech preferred if you are < 30 years of age). If you have already received this additional mRNA vaccine dose, you are not eligible for an additional booster dose at this time. Please continue to monitor for updates to your eligibility.
Access Ontario’s booking portal at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/
OR by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900
OR accessing peel public health at: https://www.peelregion.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/book-appointment/
Use this link to locate information for other public health units in Ontario: https://www.phdapps.health.gov.on.ca/phulocator/
Ontario Ministry of Health newsroom backgrounder December 30, 2021: Updated Eligibility for PCR Testing and Case and Contact Management Guidance in Ontario
Healthcare Practitioner-Specific References:
Centre for Effective Practice: COVID-19: Clinical Guidance for Primary Care Providers
Ontario Ministry of Health Guidance document December 30, 2021: COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge
Ontario Ministry of Health Symptom Reference Document January 4, 2022: https://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/2019_reference_doc_symptoms.pdf
Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 resource webpage: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
Public Health Ontario Multilingual COVID-19 Resources: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus/public-resources
Peel Region Resources for COVID19 - Peel Public Health: https://www.peelregion.ca/coronavirus/resources/
Ontario Health COVID19 Support for People: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-support-people
Telehealth Ontario: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-medical-advice-telehealth-ontario