Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. The situation is rapidly evolving and Public Health Ontario, along with the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak, conducting surveillance and appropriate laboratory testing, and providing public health and infection control guidance.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to cause respiratory illness in humans, particularly during the fall and winter months. Other novel coronaviruses have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

Current Situation in Ontario

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. The number of cases are changing quickly and the provincial and federal governments are rapidly putting in place measures that are precautionary to minimize the risk of exposure and spread.

Since the outset, Public Health Ontario has been conducting laboratory testing and working with healthcare partners to expand testing capacity. We have also been working very closely with the Ministry of Health and local public health units to provide evidence and expertise to inform decisions and policy around surveillance, case and contact management, and infection control.

Please check the Ministry of Health website for additional information about the evolving situation, the provincial response and case numbers.

For more information on the Government of Canada’s response, including travel information and precautions at international airports and borders, visit Health Canada’s website.

For Health Care Providers

For COVID-19 specific guidance including case definitions please refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance. PHO is working closely with the Ministry of Health in the development of a wide variety of resources for those in various sectors and settings, guidance for effective surveillance and the continual review of the provincial case definition. We continue to monitor emerging information to provide timely scientific and technical advice, including summaries of global research. Please refer to the resources and links below.

Laboratory Testing

Please note that requests for testing can only be obtained through a health care provider (e.g., doctor, nurse practitioner, etc) for individuals meeting criteria for testing as outlined by the Ministry of Health. Health care providers should refer to our COVID-19 Test Information Sheet for more information. For additional testing advice and support please contact Public Health Ontario’s Customer Service Centre at 416-235-6556 / 1-877-604-4567.


Updated 2 April 2020