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Frequently Asked Questions on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

To support access to testing for all Niagara residents, Niagara Region Public Health encourages all primary care providers to offer COVID-19 testing to their patients.

If you don't see a response to your question here or on COVID-19 Information for Health Care Professionals, email HCP Engagement or call our COVID-19 Health Care Professionals information line Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. at 905-688-8248, press 7, then press 1. You can also review our Medical Advisories and Memos for the latest health alerts and advisories (COVID and non-COVID related).

Updated April 28

Testing

  • What do I need to test patients in my office and where can I get it?

    Testing in office can be performed if the health care professional is able to follow the recommendations outlined by the Province, has the appropriate tools and knowledge of how to test, and can ensure coordination of sample delivery to a laboratory providing COVID-19 testing.

    You will also need:

    • A room to isolate patient (doesn't need to be a negative pressure room)
    • Fit tested seal-checked N95 respirator (or equivalent), gloves, isolation gown and eye protection (goggles, face shield or safety glasses with side protection).
      • Health care workers who are not yet fit-tested for an N95 respirator (or equivalent) must wear a non fit-tested N95 respirator (or equivalent), KN95 respirator, or well-fitted surgical/procedure mask based on a risk assessment
    • Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs

    Order COVID-19 testing swabs using the online West Region Swab Order Form.  

    Access additional PCR testing forms and instructions through Public Health Ontario.

    What do I need to know about making testing referrals?

    If it's necessary to refer patients to an external centre for testing, see testing locations in Niagara. Niagara Region Public Health offices don’t provide COVID-19 testing.

    Ensure that your patient is aware of the need for safe arrangements for travel to the testing location that maintains isolation of the patient (i.e. patient should wear a medical mask or N95/KN95 respirator if they have one, otherwise they should wear a high quality three layer cloth mask and should avoid public transit if possible).

  • What do I need to know about making testing referrals?

    If it's necessary to refer patients to an external centre for testing, see testing locations in Niagara. Niagara Region Public Health offices don't provide COVID-19 testing.

    Ensure that your patient is aware of the need for safe arrangements for travel to the testing location that maintains isolation of the patient (i.e. patient should wear a medical mask or N95/KN95 respirator if they have one, otherwise they should wear a high quality three layer cloth mask and should avoid public transit if possible).

COVID-19 treatment

We encourage all family physicians to communicate proactively with patients at higher risk for severe disease on how to seek treatment should they become infected with COVID-19.

Patients who are mildly to moderately ill and who have had symptoms for less than five to seven days should be assessed by a health care provider.

COVID-19 vaccination

Infection prevention and control

The Chief Medical Officer of Health directives will remain in effect until June 11, 2022, after which the Ministry will issue guidance on personal protective equipment recommendations for infection prevention and control in health care settings.

All health providers and health care entities must review and adopt the Technical Brief "Updated IPAC Recommendations for Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Care of Individuals with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19".

  • What do I need to know about personal protective equipment?

    Before every patient interaction, health care workers must conduct a point-of-care risk assessment.

    Required precautions for all health care workers who are fit-tested for an N95 respirator or equivalent and are providing direct care to or interacting with a suspected, probable - for example placed in precautions as high risk contact, in an outbreak zone of the facility or recently transferred from a facility in outbreak - or confirmed case of COVID-19 are:

    • Fit-tested, seal-checked N95 respirator or approved equivalent
    • Eye protection (goggles or face shield)
    • Gown
    • Gloves

    Health care workers who are not yet fit-tested for an N95 respirator or equivalent must wear a well-fitted surgical/procedure mask, or a KN95 respirator, or a non-fit-tested N95 respirator or equivalent and health care providers and entities must make reasonable efforts to ensure health care workers obtain fit-testing at the earliest opportunity.

    Airborne precautions are required when aerosol generating medical procedures are planned or anticipated to be performed on patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, based on a point of care risk assessment and clinical and professional judgment.

    To order personal protective equipment go to Ontario Together: Help fight COVID-19 or review the Niagara PPE Provider Directory to find a provider. You can also order personal protective equipment from Healthcare Materials Management Services.

Variants of concern

More information

Ministry of Health

National Advisory Community on Immunization

Centre for Effective Practice

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