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Change in COVID-19 Testing Criteria and Large Group Recommendations

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/March 13, 2020 – Effective March 12, 2020 the testing recommendations for COVID-19 were updated by the Ontario Ministry of Health to prioritize Laboratory testing for specific groups in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines.

Not everyone can or will be tested. Individuals identified to have an increased likelihood of COVID-19 illness will be considered “Probable Cases” and advised to self-isolate at home without testing. At this time, there are no positive laboratory confirmed cases among residents in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.

Individuals with mild symptoms are advised to stay at home until 24 hours after symptoms have been resolved. If you are experiencing moderate to severe respiratory symptoms call your health care provider for direction or dial 911. 

All levels of government are now recommending that Canadians avoid non-essential international travel. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has also recommended the immediate suspension of all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people.

“These measures may seem extreme and disruptive, but the time to implement them is before we see community transmission” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. “Together we can take responsible actions to ensure the health of our community and flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19”.

HPEPH is recommending active screening for a variety of settings, including all health care settings (physicians, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, long-term care homes), daycares and schools. Health care professionals are reminded to visit our website for updates.

HPEPH has opened an information call line to answer questions related to COVID-19. The line is currently answered by public health staff 7 days a week between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm – please be patient, callers may have to wait for their call to be answered due to high call volumes.

 Information is continually evolving, for the most up to date information visit or


Media Contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
613-966-5500 x 464 or 613-848-2398

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


Symptoms or exposure? Visit for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.