Frequently Asked Questions on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
See COVID-19 information for health care professionals to learn about COVID-19 vaccination and other topics.
You can also review our medical advisories and memos for the latest health alerts (COVID and non-COVID related).
- 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
- COVID-19 Virus Test Requisition
- Hand hygiene facilities available
- Cleaning and disinfectant supplies, such as wipes
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 COVID-19 testing and assessment. 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).
There are two antiviral medications available for treatment of COVID-19:
- Paxlovid (administered orally)
- Remdesivir (administered intravenously)
For these treatments to be effective, they must be administered early in the course of illness (for Paxlovid - within five days of symptom onset and for Remdesivir - within seven days of symptom onset).
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.
As of December 2022, Ontario Health no longer recommends routine use of Evusheld (Tixagevimab and Cilgavimab) for pre-exposure prophylaxis for any patient group, including immunocompromised patients. Ontario Health also does not recommend use of Evusheld for treatment of COVID-19. See Ontario Health's Recommendation on the Use of Evusheld for more information.
Who is eligible for treatment and what are the recommendations on use?
Individuals who are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms should reach out to you in primary care to determine if treatment is right for them.
Refer to the provincial website for information about treatment eligibility.
See Ontario Health's Recommendation on the Use of Nirmatrelvir / Ritonavir (Paxlovid).
How can my patients access Paxlovid?
Patients can access Paxlovid in Ontario through various channels.
Paxlovid is available for patients much more easily with a prescription from primary care, with the medication then being dispensed in pharmacies. This improves access, and allows you to treat your patients with COVID-19 the same way you would treat other illnesses.
If you are prescribing Paxlovid:
- Review Ontario Health's Recommendation on the Use of Nirmatrelvir / Ritonavir (Paxlovid).
- Review Ontario Health's Access to COVID-19 antiviral treatment (Paxlovid)
- Use Paxlovid prescription form
- Carefully consider contraindications and interactions before prescribing Paxlovid. Some medications will be able to be paused during Paxlovid treatment, and others will not. See:
Providers seeking more information or support should review Guidance for the Prescription of Nirmatrelvir / Ritonavir (Paxlovid™) from the Centre for Effective Practice.
Resources for electronic medical record forms that automate the prescription form and faxing processes that will help with Paxlovid prescriptions and referrals:
COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinics
COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinics are operating across Niagara. These clinics can test, assess and provide treatment for people with COVID-19 and other cold and flu-like illnesses. People with symptoms of a respiratory illness are still encouraged to call their primary care provider as the first option for guidance and care.
More information on the COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinics operated by Niagara Health.
As of Dec. 12, 2022, pharmacists are able to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible individuals in-person or online (such as by telephone) at no cost. Eligible individuals should contact their local pharmacy to confirm if they prescribe Paxlovid and how to get a prescription for Paxlovid. Learn more about Paxlovid prescriptions from pharmacies.
Additional treatment resources
- COVID-19 Testing and Treatment
- COVID-19 Health System Response Materials - Ontario Health for additional resources and clinical guidance on COVID-19 treatment
- Participating pharmacies dispensing Paxlovid (click on the button "Find a pharmacy to fill your prescription")
Infection prevention and control and screening
For guidance and recommendations on personal protective equipment and infection prevention and control refer to
- COVID-19 Guidance: Personal Protective Equipment for Health Care Workers and Health Care Entities - Ministry of Health
- Technical Brief - Updated IPAC Recommendations for Use of Personal Protective Equipment for Care of Individuals with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 - Public Health Ontario
- Checklist for Infection Prevention and Control Key Principles for Clinical Office Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Public Health Ontario
How can I order personal protective equipment?
To order personal protective equipment go to Ontario Together: Help fight COVID-19.
You can also order personal protective equipment from Healthcare Materials Management Services.
What do I need to know about screening for COVID-19?
Passive screening of staff continues to be recommended. Staff and healthcare providers should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and not come to work if they are experiencing symptoms, regardless of a COVID-19 test result. Learn about Provincial COVID-19 screening guidance for employers.
Learn about managing patients with respiratory illness.
Variants of concern
- What do I need to know about COVID-19 variants of concern?
The Public Health Agency of Canada expects the SARS-CoV-2 virus to continuously evolve, and is closely monitoring the domestic and international situation and preparing for new variants.
Niagara Region Public Health does not breakdown local cases by COVID-19 variant.
For more information, visit:
- COVID-19 Variants of Concern - Public Health Ontario
- Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants - World Health Organization
Ministry of Health
Centre for Effective Practice