COVID-19: Test All Symptomatic Returned Travellers

Posted Tuesday March 10, 2020

Posted By: Emily Ngo

Category: General

To: Ottawa Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Walk-In Clinics, Travel Clinics, Community Health Centres, Emergency Departments, Infection Control, HEPCO
Date: March 10, 2020
From: Dr. Monir Taha, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health

Dear Colleagues,

For current information see Ottawa Public Health’s Physician and Health Care Professionals Coronavirus web page ( or call 613-580-6744.

As a follow-up to our ERMS on March 5, 2020, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) would like to simplify our message about testing for COVID-19.
We are recommending testing of all persons with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND any of the following within 14 days prior to illness onset:

  • Travelled internationally or to a Canadian province with established local transmission, or
  • Close contact with a person with an acute respiratory illness who has travelled internationally or to a Canadian province with established local transmission, or
  • Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

Routine testing of asymptomatic persons for COVID-19 is not recommended.
We want to thank you for your support and patience as we work with our partners to implement solutions for community testing, including assessment centres. We recognize the burden that current testing recommendations are placing on emergency departments and primary care providers. We will update you when details about community testing are confirmed.
Thank you for the feedback on our March 5, 2020, public health alert. It was intended to be sent out by e-mail and fax, not by telephone, and we apologize for this error.
COVID-19 is reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation. OPH should be notified regarding any individuals being tested for COVID-19.

  • If you suspect an individual may be infected with COVID-19, report the suspected case to OPH by calling 613-580-6744 (24/7).
  • Advise any tested patient to self-isolate and await further instructions from OPH. OPH has prepared a Home Isolation handout in English, French, Simplified Chinese (PDFs).

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