What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new form of coronavirus. There are many types of coronaviruses. Some cause the common cold and have very mild symptoms. Others can be very severe, such as SARS in 2003. One of the concerns about COVID-19 is that it is brand new, so nobody has protective antibodies yet and therefore the chance of spread is higher. COVID-19 can vary between mild symptoms and severe symptoms. This seems to depend on your age and underlying health. From what we know so far, it appears that the virus is spread between close contacts and by coughing, sneezing, or touching common areas without proper handwashing.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Most people who have COVID-19 have a fever, new or worsening cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may develop as well such as runny nose, sore throat, headaches, and body aches.
Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?
People who have traveled to places where the number of cases is high are at the most risk. The list of countries changes over time, but for now they include China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Other countries with higher rates are France, Spain the UK, and the USA. People are also at risk if they have been in close contact with others that have tested positive, or those who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting results of their swab.
As the virus becomes more widespread, it will be possible to get COVID-19 without traveling and without knowingly coming in contact with someone who is sick. This is called “community spread”. People who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 through community spread are those who congregate in larger crowds (concerts, conferences, sports events), people who take crowded public transit, and people who do not wash their hands outside of their home. This is why it is now recommended to practice social distancing, to decrease the rapidity of community spread. Here is a nice article about social distancing: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-what-does-social-distancing-mean/607927/
What do I do if I have recently traveled?
If you recently traveled outside of the country (including the USA), you must self-quarantine at home for 14 days whether you have symptoms or not. If you develop symptoms, please call Public Health and follow strict self-isolation policies. The phone number is 705-721-7520, or 1-888-225-7851 outside of business hours.
I have a cough or fever. What should I do?
ANYONE with a fever, or new or worsening cough, or difficulty breathing should stay at home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours, regardless of travel history.
What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?
If you think you have COVID-19, DO NOT show up unannounced to your family physician’s office. It is no longer recommended that everyone needs to be tested. If you think you have COVID-19 and your symptoms are mild, you must stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours. If you are self-isolating, please contact the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (“Public Health”) to let them know you may have the virus. The phone number is 705-721-7520, or 1-888-225-7851 outside of business hours. Their website is www.smdhu.org. If you have symptoms of a viral illness but do not know what you should do, call you family doctors office for further direction.
If you have been tested for COVID-19 you will be asked to self-quarantine until the results come back, which may take 2-4 days. If the results are positive and your symptoms are mild, you will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, followed by being re-tested to ensure you are no longer contagious. If your symptoms are more severe you may need to be hospitalized. Please call Public Health for further direction, or go to the ER and let them know at the entrance that you are concerned about having COVID-19 and are feeling unwell.
Virtual visits at Queenan Family Medicine & Maternity Care for COVID-19 Social Distancing
Effective immediately, March 16th, 2020 our office has moved to virtual care for all patients, with the exception of those who have essential needs for in-person care (as defined by the physician). Patients who have appointments already scheduled will be contacted and offered a virtual appointment by phone or secure video. You are still able to book appointments by phone or online at https://queenan.ca/existing-patients/
If it is deemed necessary that you come into the office, be prepared for screening at multiple stages. Please be honest and up front about your symptoms and exposure history so you do not put our office staff or others at risk. If you are found to be dishonest about any viral symptoms, this will be considered a serious breach of trust and could result in your removal from our practice.
Virtual visits will be via telephone or via secure video at https://doxy.me/drequeenan; all that is required for a secure video visit is a smart phone or computer with camera/microphone that is using chrome/firefox or safari browser; this platform meets security standards for healthcare delivery in Canada. For these appointments you will be sent an email invitation or phone call with instructions on how to attend the visit. Please ensure we have your updated email address.
Considerations when planning to come into the office
Our staff are very dedicated to continuing to provide the care you need. It will just look a little different than normal. For example, while our office will be open during our normal hours, we ask that you limit dropping by the office. Please email or mail paperwork you would like to be completed. If you do need to come into the office, please maintain the recommended 1 – 2 m distance. If you do have any symptoms of fever, new cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat, or runny nose, please stay home — call or email us instead.
For more information
We invite you to check out our practice Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/QueenanFamilyMedicine/, which includes links to a number of resources in the community and updates from our local hospital GBGH. In particular, please see this self-assessment tool created by Ontario to help people determine if they need care for COVID: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0. Lots of good stuff is happening in our community to keep us all well as we fight this pandemic. We remain committed to seeing this through with you. Together, we got this.