As you know, the province has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is the term used to describe the respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus or Corona virus.
Extraordinary measures have taken place in order to slow the spread of the virus in Canada. Fortunately most cases will be mild or moderate in severity and require no treatment at all, just rest and staying at home.
The measures that have taken place are an attempt to slow the spread of the virus so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed by severe cases occurring all at the same time. The measures seem to be working.
Here is video to understand more about the virus.
In order to do our part to slow the spread of the virus the following recommendations, and changes to clinic operations, have been put into place:
- Do not come to the clinic unless you have received instruction to do so. The doors are locked and closed because all staff are working from home.
- For the foreseeable future, all appointments will be booked as telephone assessments. We do not have a date when regular in-person visits might resume. You will receive a phone call from a blocked or unknown number so please answer the phone. If you do not answer, a new appointment will have to be scheduled.
If a physical (in-person) examination is required you will be provided very specific instructions on how and when that will occur.
To book a telephone appointment, you must email or call to arrange a time.
- If you have any respiratory-related symptoms (i.e. cough, fever) or other concerning symptoms you can use this COVID-19 self-assessment tool.
- If you have any respiratory-related symptoms (i.e. cough, fever) stay home for 14 days. Select for Self-Isolation Instructions, Ontario Public Health has a Self-Isolation document as well. If you have returned from anywhere outside of Canada you are under mandatory quarantine for 14 days and must provide your quarantine plan if asked for it.
- If you are HIV-positive and are on anti-retrovirals then there is no evidence to suggest you are at higher risk for acquiring COVID-19 nor are you at greater risk for having more severe disease if you do. This is our current understanding. The International Aids Society website has excellent answers to most questions.
If you are HIV-positive or on PrEP and you are now due or overdue to complete blood work, please contact your physician to find out when you should go to the lab. Lab requisitions can be emailed to you for you to print, or faxed directly to many labs. For refills, please have your pharmacy fax a request for medication renewals as per the usual protocol. If you wish to temporarily stop your PrEP because you are physically distancing please arrange for a telephone appointment for instructions on how to do this and how to resume your medication.
- COVID-19 tests can only be done at designated assessment centres. Select to find one near you (the closest to our clinic is at Women’s College Hospital). Please read through the instructions on this site to see if you qualify for testing based on the current public health recommendations, which change frequently. Patients report the best service at the centres located at St. Michael’s Hospital and Michael Garron (formerly Toronto East General) Hospital.
- There is now one antibody ("serology") blood test approved for use in Canada- the test indicates wheter someone has been previously or recently infected with COVID-19. We do not yet know when the test will be available commercially in Ontario but we will update our website once we know more.
- If you have severe respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath or fever that is not responding to Tylenol then you should go to an emergency department. Mask yourself when leaving the house (if you have one or can make one), or immediately before or upon entry to the hospital. Advise the staff there that you have respiratory symptoms.
Prevention is critical – practice both physical distancing and washing your hands properly. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. When you are outside you should wear a mask if you have one, if not, make one. Currently, community virus spread is common. Notably, this coronavirus can be spread by respiratory droplets 1-3 days before you might have any symptoms. A mask will help protect you and protect others. Even if you feel fine, you might be contagious. A variety of masks have become more widely available at grocery and hardware stores.
Mental health maintenance is important during these times when we have been asked to stay home. Our clinic website has information about online resources to help look after your mental health.
If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.
Many businesses, such as grocery stores, may now require you to wear a mask to shop in-person. You can re-use surgical masks (if you only have a few) by placing the mask in a paper bag then closing the bag for 72 hours. Only touch the ear loops and not the mask itself. Currently we believe the coronavirus cannot survive more than 3 days on any surface. If the mask is soiled or damaged throw it away. If you have a mask that is washable, please remember to wash it after each use. Select for more information about face masks.
Thank you for your cooperation during this pandemic.