Questions and Answers on COVID‑19

Tap a question to reveal the answer. All content is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Individuals are urged to consult with their doctor or other health care provider for answers to personal health care questions.

Responses may include links to external sites and the content associated with these external links may change without notice. The evidence associated with COVID-19 is constantly evolving and content will be updated as needed.

Vaccines and Vaccination

This information is current as of March 16, 2021.

The ingredients for the four vaccines currently approved for use in Canada can be found here:

If new vaccines for COVID-19 are approved for use in Canada in the coming months, you will be able to find out about their ingredients on the Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 website.

Yes, this could be possible if:

  • the individual was infected with the virus in the two weeks before or shortly after being vaccinated for COVID-19, before they are considered immune; or
  • the individual is part of the group of vaccine recipients in whom the vaccine isn’t effective. Vaccines are never 100% effective, which means that while they are effective at protecting most people, they won’t protect everyone.

While the data show that the vaccines are good at preventing those who are immunized from getting sick with COVID-19, it doesn’t seem to prevent all of them from getting the virus. We don’t yet know if or how well the vaccines prevent immunized people from passing the virus on to others.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) — a national group of experts that provides ongoing and timely medical, scientific and public health advice — recommends that all individuals should continue to practice recommended public health measures for prevention and control of COVID-19 regardless of their COVID-19 immunization status. So, even if you receive the vaccine, you still need to wear a mask when indicated, practice physical distancing, wash your hands regularly and follow all other measures recommended by your local public health authorities. NACI will continue to monitor the situation, and recommendations may change as more evidence becomes available.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is a coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and a Variant of Concern (VOC) is a genetic variation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus where these changes have clinical or public health significance. For example, it would be significant if a variant became more transmissible (spread more readily), caused more severe disease, or had an impact on diagnostic testing or the effectiveness of vaccines or treatments.

There are several VOCs for the virus that causes COVID-19; these VOCs that have been identified within Canada include a variant first identified in the United Kingdom (UK), a variant first identified in South Africa, and a variant first identified in Brazil. These spread more easily. There are also many other questions about these new VOCs such as whether they cause more severe disease (evidence from Ontario indicates that the new VOCs, the majority of which are the VOC first identified in the UK, cause more severe disease), whether they will mean that younger people are now at higher risk of getting sick, and whether vaccines are as effective against these VOCs.

Data about the effectiveness of vaccines against VOCs (i.e., the information that will tell us whether COVID-19 vaccines are just as effective against these VOCs) is evolving. There are many partners collaborating on this issue including laboratories, researchers, health care partners, and manufacturers. The Government of Canada is closely and continually monitoring the effectiveness of the vaccines that are authorized for use in Canada, against VOCs. If needed, vaccine recommendations will be updated.

It’s also important to note that other public health measures for the prevention and control of COVID-19 (e.g., physical distancing, masking, hand hygiene, etc.) continue to work against VOCs and should be practiced carefully.

Yes, if someone had COVID-19 they should still receive the vaccine. They may not be immune to the virus and therefore could become ill again. However, if the vaccine supply is limited, initial doses of the vaccine may be prioritized for those who have not previously been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. If you have been previously diagnosed as having had COVID-19, you can check with your primary care physician or local public health authority to see when you will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

You should get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered to you, because vaccination is one of the most effective ways to:

  • reduce the spread of the virus;
  • reduce your risk of getting severely ill, being hospitalized and dying; from COVID-19; and
  • help control the pandemic.

The best vaccine is the first one offered or available to you. Each COVID-19 vaccine goes through a rigorous approval process by Health Canada to ensure that they are safe and effective. In the research studies (called clinical trials) conducted before the vaccines were approved by Health Canada, each vaccine was found to significantly reduce severe disease and COVID-19 related death.

To determine if one is better than another, the vaccines would have to be tested in head-to-head comparisons and the vaccines were tested individually.

You should receive documentation when you get the vaccine, just like when you get any other kind of vaccination. Keep this for your personal records.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends COVID-19 vaccination even for people who have already had COVID-19. In general, you should wait until all symptoms of any acute illness, including COVID-19, have gone away before getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

More specific details about when you can receive the vaccine may depend on vaccine supply and local immunization strategies where you live. In some cases, where supply is limited, NACI notes that it may be recommended that people who have had COVID-19 wait three months after they have had a lab-confirmed infection before getting immunized. Why? There have been almost no reports of people being re-infected with COVID-19 within three months of having had it. This suggests that the risk of re-infection during that period is probably low. Waiting would also allow more people who don’t have any immunity to get the shot.

Guidance on what people in Canada can and cannot do once they are partially and fully vaccinated is evolving. Although the COVID-19 vaccines provide excellent protection, they are not 100% effective. Very high levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in many communities, largely because of the rapid spread of the variants of concern. As a result, you can still become infected and pass the virus on to others, even though you have been vaccinated.

You should continue to follow public health guidance in your jurisdiction, which may include isolating, monitoring for symptoms and getting tested for COVID-19. While we are all working hard to get to a place where we can return to “normal,” for now, the safest thing to do, even if you have been partially or fully vaccinated, is to continue to carefully limit your number of contacts and diligently practice public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing an appropriate face covering, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when sick.

Yes. You can still be infected with SARS CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) even after you’ve been partially or fully vaccinated. If you are showing signs of COVID-19, you should be tested and should follow public health guidance in your jurisdiction. While the approved COVID-19 vaccines are excellent at reducing the severity of illness that people experience, they are not 100% effective – no vaccine is. Very high levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in many communities, largely because of the rapid spread of the variants of concern. As well, it takes up to 14 days after getting a vaccine for your body to develop immunity. As a result, there is still a chance that you can become infected and pass the virus on to others and it is important to get tested if you have symptoms.

Yes. You can still be infected with SARS CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) even if you’ve been vaccinated. The vaccines have been proven to reduce the likelihood of severe illness or death, but they are not 100% effective at preventing infection.

There are two types of COVID-19 tests. Viral tests detect the virus itself: they show if you have a current infection. You get this kind of test when you’ve been a close contact of a case of COVID-19, or if you have symptoms. If you are infected, it can be positive, even if you’ve been vaccinated. Antibody tests show whether your body has had an immune response to COVID-19 and has produced antibodies to the virus. Your body may have these antibodies because you have previously had COVID-19 or because you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 vaccines do not cause positive results for viral tests. In other words, if you have a positive viral test result, it means you are currently infected with COVID-19. Vaccination may produce a positive result on some antibody tests.

No. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines because they do not contain SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

There are different types of vaccines approved for use in Canada. The first kind, mRNA vaccines, give your body instructions on how to make a protein that stimulates an immune response that can provide protection against COVID-19. The second kind, viral vector vaccines, use a harmless virus as a delivery system to make a protein in your body that will also stimulate an immune response. Millions of people in Canada and around the world have safely received mRNA and viral vector vaccines against COVID-19.

Since there are currently no safety and efficacy data when COVID-19 vaccines are interchanged, it is best to receive the same vaccine product for both your first and second doses if possible. There are, however, situations when this may not be possible or recommended.

These include:

  • If you can’t find your immunization record or get the information from your health care provider or the place that you received your vaccine;
  • You don’t know what type of vaccine you received for your first dose;
  • The vaccine you received for your first dose is not available due to supply constraints.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization notes that while it is not recommended to get vaccines of different types (e.g., mRNA and viral vector vaccine) in the same series, supply may be limited. In this case, you can go ahead and get whatever is available to you as a second dose, and you don’t need to restart the series.

No. The immunity you get with the first dose of the COVID vaccines is quite high, and the second dose is intended to boost that up higher and to increase how long that immunity is sustained. Because of the urgency in addressing the pandemic, different intervals had not been studied during the initial clinical trials. However, the experience with other vaccines is often that the longer the interval the better the boost.

While the manufacturer-recommended interval is indeed much shorter, Canada needed to make a difficult decision about how best to use its limited supply of vaccine. It considered not only the available evidence on vaccine safety and efficacy but also how much vaccine was and is expected to be available. The goal of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan is to make sure as many people as possible are immunized as quickly as possible, while prioritizing the people at highest risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe disease or death.

Widespread COVID-19 vaccination is needed to reduce the spread of the virus, minimize severe disease, hospitalization and death, and help control the pandemic. With that in mind, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization examined the available evidence on vaccine efficacy and recommended a potential interval of up to four months between doses if needed so that more people could be offered first doses. As Canada receives more shipments of vaccine, you may be able to receive your second dose sooner.

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The safety and efficacy were demonstrated in the evidence provided for the review, approval and authorization of the vaccines. In Canada, the independent authorization process has been recognized for both its high standards as well as its thorough review process. Like any new medical intervention, evidence is constantly emerging as to the possible risks and side effects of the new vaccines, and recommendations for their use may be updated accordingly, sometimes on very short notice. This is a normal part of the scientific process.

In general, the side effects for the COVID-19 vaccines are similar to side effects seen with other vaccines. They are usually mild or moderate and resolve a few days after vaccination. Side effects may include body chills, feeling feverish, feeling tired and pain at the injection site.

Like all vaccines, there is the rare chance of a serious side effect (e.g., an allergic reaction). If you have any specific concerns about the vaccines or whether you might be at risk of an allergic reaction you should speak to your primary care provider.

Information on the side effects for the four vaccines currently approved for use in Canada can be found here:

To approve a vaccine for use in Canada several steps must be taken.

First, the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in phase III clinical trials. In addition to the phase III clinical trials, the following must also occur:

  • Independent reviews of the vaccine’s efficacy and safety as well as regulatory review and approval by the countries manufacturing the vaccine. In Canada this is done by Health Canada.
  • Approval of the vaccine for use. Only those vaccines deemed safe, effective, of high quality and where the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks are authorized.
  • Ongoing monitoring and review of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines authorized for use in Canada after people receive the vaccine.

Yes. There are currently four vaccines for COVID-19 approved for use in Canada. Click the links below for information about when each vaccine was authorized for use, its ingredients, how it works, how it’s administered (including how many doses), its possible side effects and how its safety will continue to be monitored:

If new vaccines for COVID-19 are authorized for use in Canada in the coming months, you will be able to find out about them on the Government of Canada’s Vaccines for COVID-19 website.

No, you will not get sick from the COVID-19 vaccine. Sometimes, after receiving a vaccine, individuals may experience mild to moderate side effects (e.g., feeling feverish and tired). These are a normal sign of the immune response to the vaccine.

However, if someone were to become infected with COVID-19 just before or shortly after receiving the vaccine they may become sick, because the vaccine hasn’t had enough time to provide proper protection against the virus. More information on the COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.

The best vaccine is the first one that is available to you. Now that several variants of concern are spreading in Canada, COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing, so it is important that you get immunized as soon as you are eligible. Health Canada and Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization continually review research and vaccine safety information and ensure that they keep the recommendations on who is eligible for what type of vaccine up to date. If you are eligible, the AstraZeneca vaccine is a safe option for you. The age of eligibility may vary by province or territory, but the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved by Health Canada for use in persons 18 years of age and older.

Please consult your provincial/territorial guidelines for eligibility and speak to your health care provider should you have any questions.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in Canada for persons 18 years of age or over. Health Canada’s vaccine approval process is a rigorous one that looks at all available evidence on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Millions of doses of the vaccine have been administered around the world and Health Canada continues to monitor new developments.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is the expert body that makes recommendations to governments on who should receive vaccines and when, based on the most current scientific evidence, considerations around vaccine supply, as well as an understanding of the severity of the pandemic. The decisions are being made with the information available and will change over time should new evidence come to light, the pandemic situation change or there be issues with supply.

The current NACI recommendation is that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older. The recommendations have been changing over time, and it is important to understand why. In recent months, we have learned that there is a very small risk of a rare condition that causes blood clots, called Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) or Vaccine-Induced Prothrombic Immune Thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), in people who have received the vaccine. Initial studies out of Europe indicated that it is was more prevalent in people under 55 years of age. Initially, out of an abundance of caution and given that the Canadian government expects to have an adequate supply of other vaccines (e.g., Pfizer, Moderna) for people under 55 years of age, NACI recommended that only people aged 55 years and older should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

More recently, as NACI continued to look at all available and emerging evidence, the committee advised that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older. Determining who should get the vaccine involves a careful and thorough risk/benefit analysis. While there is a very small risk of blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, the risk of blood clots as a complication of COVID infection is significantly higher ― up to ten times higher as noted in recent research.

As we see COVID cases and hospitalizations increasing exponentially in some jurisdictions, the Government of Canada highlighted how the vaccine is approved for persons 18 years of age and over. With that in mind, several provinces have expanded the age range currently eligible for the vaccine. Please consult your provincial/territorial guidelines for eligibility.

All adults living in Canada are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as supplies become available throughout 2021. Your local public health authority will have information on the timing for vaccination of different age groups or higher risk populations. Priority is being given to those most at risk of complications and those most exposed to COVID-19 due to their work (e.g. health care workers).

Vaccines have not yet been approved for use in children, only for ages 18 and over (except for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine that is approved for age 16 and over). Emerging evidence indicates that the vaccine is also safe and effective for younger age groups.

While the recommendation is that everyone should get vaccinated, there may be some individuals with particular allergies or underlying conditions for whom COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended at this point. These individuals should discuss immunization with their health care provider who will advise them on the risks and benefits.

Further, individuals who currently have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19 should wait until their symptoms have improved to get vaccinated. These individuals should also discuss their individual circumstances with their health care provider.

The vaccines are being rolled out using a phased approach based on availability of supplies and decisions made around the prioritization of populations that are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and for more severe disease. For more information, refer to your home province or territory’s distribution plan to find out when you are eligible.

In most provinces and territories, you will not be given a choice. All of the vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective. They reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death and will help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The vaccine you are offered will depend on several factors. These include what vaccine is approved for your age group and what vaccine is available. For example, certain vaccines need to be stored in special freezers (which facilities near you might not have), or your region may not have a supply of a particular vaccine when your turn to get vaccinated comes up.

If you have allergies to certain ingredients in one of the vaccines speak to your physician to determine if and when a vaccine is advisable. It is important to take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is offered to you, as the more quickly people get vaccinated, the sooner the pandemic will come under control.

Many people in Canada — especially those in age groups or with vocations or medical conditions that are prioritized for the vaccine — are wondering how and when they will be notified they can get the vaccine. Individuals should refer to the distribution plan of their home province or territory, or their local public health unit, to find out when they may be eligible (based on where they are situated on the priority list) as well as how notifications will be provided. This will differ by province and territory and even by city and neighbourhood as the vaccination effort progresses. Click here for more information.

The only way to access these COVID-19 vaccines is through clinics organized or endorsed by the local public health authority in collaboration with Canada's federal, provincial and territorial and local governments. Canadians should also be aware and cautious of fraudulent emails, text messages and other unsolicited communication pertaining to access of COVID vaccines. For more information visit Government of Canada Vaccines for COVID-19.

Canada has agreements in place with a number of pharmaceutical companies to secure safe and effective vaccines for the population. This is to ensure that a sufficient supply is available as vaccines are approved.

As vaccines are approved by Health Canada, the Government of Canada is receiving the vaccine supply and the Public Health Agency of Canada is overseeing distribution to the provinces and territories. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has provided federal guidance on key populations who should receive the vaccine to inform the local distribution plan. Each province and territory has developed their own specific distribution plan, using the national guidance provided to them to ensure some consistency across the country. Click here for more information.

While vaccines are being approved and others are in the pipeline, there are logistical considerations to keep in mind (i.e., some vaccines may need to be transported and maintained at a specific temperature). It will take several months until everyone in the country is immunized. Some of the approved vaccines require more than one dose over a period of time. This means that even though we now have vaccines available in Canada, the pandemic isn’t over yet. People in Canada, whether or not they have been vaccinated, must all continue to follow public health recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus ― staying home when sick, handwashing, wearing a mask, physically distancing and following local public health guidance in their jurisdiction.

Yes. It will be important to have your immunization record, to know when you received your first dose and what type of vaccine you received.

We don’t yet know whether it is safe and/or effective to interchange COVID-19 vaccines, so it is best to receive the same vaccine product for both your first and second doses if at all possible. If it is not possible to receive the same product (e.g., Pfizer vaccine), the next best thing is to get the same type of vaccine (e.g., mRNA – which includes the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines).

If you don’t know what type of vaccine you received for your first dose, try to find your immunization record, or get the information from the place where you received your vaccine. What should you do if you can’t get this information? Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) advises that you can go ahead and get whatever vaccine is available to you as a second dose. You don’t need to restart with a new first dose because vaccine supply may be limited.

Yes. Generally speaking, all people 65 years or older in Canada should get whichever COVID-19 vaccine is offered to them. Health Canada has examined the evidence from the manufacturers’ clinical trials and has approved vaccines for people aged 18 and over (except for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is approved for people aged 16 and over). Additionally, real-world evidence continues to be collected (e.g., in further clinical trials) and is being closely monitored to inform recommendations for vaccine use. If you have any concerns about the vaccines, such as possible side effects, or questions about whether your health or other circumstances will affect whether you should get vaccinated, talk with your health care provider.

We don’t yet know when children in Canada will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19. At present, the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in Canada in individuals 16 years of age and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson [Janssen] vaccines are authorized for use in people aged 18 years and older.

Right now, studies called clinical trials are researching the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children and younger adolescents. Pfizer announced on March 31, 2021, that in a clinical trial their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and efficacious (provided good protection against COVID-19 in the controlled circumstances of a clinical trial) in adolescents 12–15 years. Although these clinical trial results are promising, specific steps need to be taken before the vaccine is approved and available in Canada for this age group.

As the results of the various ongoing clinical trials in children and younger teens come in, the Canadian recommendations for the use of COVID-19 vaccines in these age groups will be updated if necessary.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women were not included in the initial COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. There are studies underway that are looking at how well the vaccines work and how safe they are in these populations, but at present the data are limited.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) recommends that the vaccine should be offered to eligible pregnant and breastfeeding women who do not have any underlying conditions for which the vaccine would not be advisable. The SOGC says that the risk of infection and complications from COVID-19 outweighs any theoretical or potential risk from the vaccine. There is also emerging evidence that pregnant women may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, and some provinces are prioritizing them for vaccination. To help with their decision-making, pregnant and breastfeeding women considering the vaccine should speak with their health care provider to weigh the risks and benefits.

As more information becomes available about these populations and the vaccine, the SOGC will review and revise their recommendations accordingly.

The Medical Advisory Board of the GBS/CIDP Foundation of Canada recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people previously diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). You should get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, unless you developed GBS within six weeks of any prior vaccine.

Current evidence shows that the approved COVID-19 vaccines do not increase a person’s risk for GBS.

If you have GBS, or have had it in the past, and have questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you, you should talk to your health care provider.

Most people will be able to safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. People who have medical conditions are often advised to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they may be at increased risk of complications from the illness. The original studies that led to the approval of the vaccines (clinical trials) did not include populations with every medical condition. It will be important to discuss vaccination with your physician, who knows your health condition, treatments and medications. Your physician will have access to information through their medical specialty as well as information about how people with your medical condition have responded to other vaccines. They can discuss with you the benefits and risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and may have some specific advice about your situation. For example, your physician might recommend that you wait a certain amount of time after surgery or other treatment before getting vaccinated.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that people should not routinely take pain- or fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen before (or at the time of) vaccination with the goal of preventing side effects. The reason for this recommendation is that there is currently no evidence on the benefit of taking these medications to prevent vaccination pain or to reduce symptoms afterwards. If you develop pain or fever after receiving the vaccine, you can consider using these medications to manage your symptoms, if you wish.

Some people routinely take these medications for other reasons. If this is the case for you, note that you can still go ahead and get the vaccine.

There are currently no drug interaction warnings for any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada. In other words, receiving the vaccine should not prevent your medication(s) from working, your medication(s) should not prevent the vaccine from working, and the vaccine and your medication(s) will not interact with each other in a harmful way. The only known exception is that certain immunosuppressant medications may slightly reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. However, if you are taking medications and have any concerns, please speak to your doctor as they will be familiar with your health conditions and medications.

Right now, we don’t know whether the approved COVID-19 vaccines are just as safe and effective if they are given at or around the same time as other vaccines. Since we don’t yet have that data, to maximize benefit and minimize any potential harm, Canada’s National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) recommends that people should not get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.

NACI has made some other recommendations about the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine in relation to other vaccines, while we wait for additional evidence:

  • You should wait at least 28 days after each dose of COVID-19 vaccine before getting any other vaccine. The exception to this would be when you need another type of vaccine because you have been exposed to an illness (such as measles, rabies or some types of viral hepatitis), to reduce your risk of getting that illness.
  • You should wait at least 14 days after receiving any other vaccine before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you inadvertently get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as another vaccine, neither dose should be repeated. This means the dose of each should be considered “given.” You should get any required boosters or follow-up vaccines according to schedule, keeping in mind considerations around spacing.

You may still be able to safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past. Your primary care provider can help you to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that:

  • If you have a severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) after getting your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get a subsequent dose of a similar type of COVID-19 vaccine. The two types of COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for use in Canada are mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) and viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson [Janssen]). You should talk to your primary care provider to see if another type of COVID-19 vaccine would be a good idea for you.

You should not have a COVID-19 vaccine if you have had a previous proven severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) to any component of the specific COVID-19 vaccine or its container. If you’re not sure what is in the vaccine and its packaging, you can speak to your primary care provider and/or look at the information in the product monograph for the specific vaccine, which can be found through Health Canada’s Drug Product Database. In addition, NACI has a list of ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines that have been associated with allergic reactions in other products.

If you’ve had an allergic or other severe reaction to a vaccine in the past, you should speak to your health care provider. Most of the time, it is still a good idea to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is up to you and your health care provider to decide based on your specific health history.

Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are usually mild to moderate and include things like redness or soreness at the injection site, feeling tired, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and/or mild fever. When reactions like this happen, it is usually because your body is developing an immune response.

Guidance on what people in Canada can and cannot do once they are vaccinated is evolving. That’s because very high levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in many communities, with an increasing proportion being the variants of concern. As well, we know that vaccines are not 100% effective.

Right now, the safest thing to do, even if you have been partially or fully vaccinated, is to continue to carefully limit your number of contacts and diligently practice public health measures such as physical distancing, wearing an appropriate face covering, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when sick. People who have been vaccinated, whether partially or fully, should continue to follow all public health measures in their community and are not exempt from relevant legislation and restrictions.

The Government of Canada continues to recommend that people avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada, regardless of their COVID-19 immunization status. If you must travel, whether within Canada or abroad, it is recommended that you still follow public health guidance while travelling and while at your destination. It is also essential to be aware of public health requirements that are in place for people who are returning to Canada, such as testing and quarantine.

Current data for individuals with or without evidence of prior COVID-19 infection show that the authorized vaccines are highly effective in the short term against the disease and the need for hospitalization starting one to two weeks after a person receives the first dose. In the case of vaccines where two doses are required, that immunity is further boosted after the second dose.

We don’t know. More research is needed to learn if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection and how strong the protection will be over time. One of the questions to be answered is whether or not yearly vaccinations will be required, as they currently are for influenza.

Unfortunately, we don’t know. The pandemic will need to be brought under control using a comprehensive response, including public health measures. Part of the public health response will include widespread COVID-19 immunization to establish herd immunity, which will require distribution of the vaccine to a large proportion of the population. Vaccines work by building up the immune system to quickly recognize and destroy disease-causing germs in order to prevent illness. As more people in a community get vaccinated, the risk of passing the disease from person to person decreases. This also helps to protect people who remain susceptible because they are unable to get vaccinated for various reasons, such as age or underlying medical conditions. Herd immunity is achieved only when a high percentage of the population is vaccinated.

Question Archives

These questions are no longer updated, but are available here for reference purposes only.

All viruses evolve and mutate. Scientists are still determining whether COVID-19 will continue to transmit in the same way. So far, it doesn’t appear to be mutating in a more dangerous way. However, that doesn’t mean it is less dangerous and there is no evidence that it is “weakening.”

The virus responsible for COVID-19 is a new (or novel) virus and COVID-19 is a new disease. The virus belongs to a known family called coronaviruses, but it has not been identified previously. Coronaviruses also cause some types of the common cold as well as SARS. Medical professionals are still learning about what makes this specific virus different from the flu and other viruses.

Here are some differences between COVID-19 and the flu:

  • Rate of infection/transmission. With COVID-19, and absent physical distancing, transmission experts are seeing one person give the virus to 2 to 2.5 people which is higher than the flu.
  • Incubation time, from exposure to first symptoms. With COVID-19, the incubation time is one to 14 days. The flu has an incubation time of one to four days.
  • Higher risk populations. Older individuals with underlying conditions appear to be at increased risk for severe infection and mortality. COVID-19 data indicates that children are less likely to be affected by the virus than adults. Typically, children are key drivers of flu transmission in the community.
  • Mortality rate. Based on early data, COVID-19 appears to have a higher mortality rate than the flu (especially seasonal flu).

The number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada changes daily. For an accurate (current) picture of the number of COVID-19 case in Canada, including provincial breakdowns, visit Health Canada’s website.

According to the World Health Organization, all available evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus first appeared in China at the end of 2019 and was not manipulated or produced in a laboratory.

Medical professionals don’t know. Because COVID-19 is a new virus, it is not yet known if people can develop an immunity to COVID-19 after recovering. Research into this issue is being actively pursued at the moment.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.

Practicing proper hygiene is extremely important for people working in schools. You should also consider taking the following steps to help protect your family when you return home:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Remove your clothes, wash them right away and place them in the dryer for a full cycle.
  • Shower.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch items.

Self-isolate if you become symptomatic, either within the home or at another location.

There is still so much we’re learning about COVID-19, including the specific risks to children and the effect that the virus has on them. Preliminary research shows that: ‎So far, COVID-19 has affected adults much more than children. We think it is less severe, particularly in children under the age of 10.

  • There have been fewer cases reported in children than in older age groups.
  • Children appear to have more asymptomatic cases than adults.
  • Asymptomatic transmission, although rare, may occur.
  • Children could experience different symptoms than adults.
  • Even though children appear to become less severely ill, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred.

Maintaining key public health measures is very important. The concern with younger children, both in schools and in the community, is that they are less likely to be compliant with proper hygiene (e.g., handwashing, coughing into their sleeve) and may have a harder time remembering the importance of physical distancing.

Based on current scientific evidence and expert opinion, public health agencies have provided guidance and protocols to schools on reopening and how best to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread. It is likely that protocols will evolve as schools re-open and authorities have a chance to observe the impact.

The decision is a very difficult one to make, because there are so many variables to consider and so much uncertainty. Ultimately, families need to do what they are comfortable with and what makes sense for their particular circumstances.

For more COVID-19 guidance regarding school for Kindergarten to Grade 12 click here.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been shown to infect people of all ages, but some are at a higher risk of severe illness, increasing progressively with age. If you are 65 or older, you should limit contact with those outside your household as much as possible. You should also be aware of the constantly evolving guidance around physical (social) distancing and “bubbling” in your home province or territory.

To be sure you’re not carrying the virus, consider self-isolating for 14 days before caring for an elderly parent. Your parent should do the same. If the situation requires you to provide care sooner, then you should self-isolate together. Additionally, you should both wear appropriate protective equipment, such as a face mask and gloves, and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly after any contact.

If your partner is traveling and possibly being exposed to the virus, you should avoid going to your mother’s home. If no other caregiver is available and you absolutely must provide care for her, you should follow physical distancing measures, unless the care involves close contact. In either case, you should both wear appropriate protective equipment such as a face mask and gloves, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and ensure any surfaces you come into contact with are disinfected afterwards.

When caring for someone who is sick there are three principles to follow: limit contact, protect yourself and keep the environment clean.

It is recommended that only one healthy person — without underlying medical issues — care for someone with the virus. Ideally, you should not share a bedroom, bathroom, electronic devices, utensils, etc., with the person.

If you need to be within two metres of the infected person, you should wear a face mask, eye protection and disposable gloves if at all possible. Do not reuse masks and disposable gloves. Wash your hands often for a minimum of 20 seconds and dry them with paper towels. If paper towels are not available, dry your hands with a cloth towel but replace it when it gets wet. Avoid touching your face.

Regularly disinfect surfaces and things that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes, using approved hard-surface disinfectants.

Make sure to have a lined container like a garbage pail available to dispose of used face masks, gloves, tissues and other contaminated items. Laundry items used by the infected person should be placed into a container with a plastic liner and can be washed with regular laundry soap and hot water (60–90°C). Dry well.

If you’re looking after an individual who requires ongoing care, you may consider hiring a caregiver for times when you must leave the home. The caregiver will have to follow physical (social) distancing measures and wear appropriate protective equipment, such as a mask and gloves. After the caregiver leaves, you should disinfect all areas of your home they may have come into contact with.

For many parents, sharing custody in a pandemic can raise many concerns. Issues can come up if one parent feels the other isn’t taking proper precautions to protect their children or if one parent has a higher risk of exposure due to their work, family situation or underlying medical conditions.

In most situations, you should do your best to maintain existing arrangements and schedules while taking all necessary precautions to protect your children. If you are struggling to reach an agreement, contact your family law mediators to find a suitable solution.

When you’re dropping off or picking up your children, remember to follow guidance on proper hygiene and physical distancing.

To date, the symptoms in children appear to be similar to those in adults but abdominal symptoms and skin changes or rashes have been more commonly reported in children. Some children experience a multi-system inflammatory syndrome that is similar to, but distinct from, Kawasaki disease. It is still not known if children with underlying health issues are at higher risk for severe illness. Evidence suggests that children of all ages appear to be susceptible and gender has not been identified as a risk factor. Children tend to have mild infections, with the majority being asymptomatic. Consequently, the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in children may be difficult to determine and perhaps underestimated.

While children appear to be at lower risk for serious complications, their symptoms should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, there have been credible reports of children and infants succumbing to the illness.

Mask or no mask, the best way to protect children during the pandemic is by practicing physical distancing.

If this is not possible then older children, who understand why masks are being worn should wear a mask when in an enclosed public space. The Public Health Agency of Canada has advised that masks should not be worn by children under the age of two. Check with your local public health authority for guidelines on children wearing masks in school and daycare settings.

Many hospitals are restricting or preventing visitors to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, care teams do work with families to accommodate exceptional circumstances.

Most hospitals are allowing one family caregiver to accompany children, but they must be prepared to be screened upon arrival for symptoms, travel and contact history. Siblings and other visitors are not permitted. If you are unsure, call your local hospital before visiting in person.

Immunization is essential, especially during these uncertain times, and delaying vaccinations could leave your child, and others, at risk of disease. You should not cancel or delay scheduled vaccinations.

When bringing your baby or child to an appointment, the following measures will ensure your safety and that of others:

  • Only one adult should bring the baby or child to the appointment.
  • Don’t go to the clinic if you, your baby or child is sick or have any of the following symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Don’t go to the clinic if you are in quarantine or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

This is a personal choice each family needs to make based on different risk factors that affect them.

Retailers have new guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection. These include routine cleaning and disinfecting guidance, as well as how to manage reported incidents of COVID-19 with both employees and customers.

All employees are instructed to wash their hands often, keep a safe distance from others, refrain from touching their face and wear a non-medical face covering/mask.

There are precautionary measures new parents can follow when caring for their newborns:

  • Consider breastfeeding your baby because it lowers their risk of infection and illness. The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in breastmilk.
  • Minimize your risk of infection by staying home as much as possible and practicing physical distancing if you must go out.
  • Avoid having visitors in your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after touching the baby and other children.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering, especially when you feed your baby.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces often.
  • Place a clean towel on the nursing pillow each time you feed your baby.
  • Sterilize equipment (e.g. bottles and breast pumps) and don’t share it with others.

Mothers who have or suspect they have COVID-19 must isolate themselves from everyone but the baby. They should also consider wearing a mask when holding their baby. If you are too ill to care for your baby, the person who takes on that responsibility should take the precautions above. We know that some people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms.

Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering while out in public is recommended when it is not possible to consistently maintain a two-metre physical distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings (e.g., stores, public transit).

However, masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. People with underlying conditions, such as COPD, need to be especially vigilant with precautionary measures ― following physical (social) distancing rules, washing hands and avoiding contact with others who are ill.

There are different levels of severity of COPD. Some people have mild COPD, and wearing a mask may not present significant difficulties. If you have more severe COPD, you may wish to check with your family physician or respiratory specialist before making a decision.

For more information on masks visit the Masks and Personal Protection section.

People with underlying conditions, such as COPD, are not necessarily at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. However, if they get the virus, their symptoms may be more severe as COVID-19 directly affects the lungs. Consequently, there’s a higher risk of these individuals requiring hospitalization and intensive care treatment. It’s especially important for those with underlying conditions to take precautionary measures, including continuing to take prescribed medications, following physical (social) distancing rules, washing your hands, wearing a mask and avoiding contact with others who are ill.

COVID-19 is known to trigger asthma exacerbations and there is evidence to suggest adults with asthma are overrepresented among those who require hospitalization.

If you suffer from asthma and would like to minimize your risk, consider asking your supervisor if you can swap your current duties for others that don’t require you to be on the frontlines.

Experts also recommend you remain on the same maintenance medications.

Yes. Current evidence suggests patients living with cancer and cancer survivors may have a higher risk of health complications if they contract COVID-19. They should follow the general guidance provided by Public Health Agency of Canada to:

  • stay home
  • practice physical (social) distancing
  • wash hands well and often
  • disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently
  • avoid all non-essential travel

If you require follow-up care, consider asking your health care provider whether in-person appointments can be conducted over the phone or by videoconferencing.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is shown to infect people of all ages, but some are at a higher risk of severe illness. These include people who are over 65 years old and/or have underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Preliminary genomic research is underway to identify any other patterns in individuals affected by COVID-19 but results on susceptible genes are not yet available.

In the meantime, everyone should take the same precautionary measures to protect themselves and others.

Whether a patient gets transferred to a hospital or not depends on a few factors: the specific facility’s capabilities and policies as well as the individual person’s wishes and how significant their symptoms are.

When appropriate, patients or their caregivers are also encouraged to discuss care options and medical interventions with their care providers in case they become ill (e.g. whether they would want to go on a ventilator).

People with medical conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer and those with weakened immune systems appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

There are many steps you can take to be prepared and reduce your risk of contracting the virus.

  • Stay home and avoid contact with anyone who is not a member of your household.
  • Talk to your health care provider about how to protect yourself and ensure you have enough prescribed medications and medical supplies on hand.
  • Clean your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer when outside of your home.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your environment with regular household cleaners and approved hard-surface disinfectants.
  • Clean touch screens with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol wipes).
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes and/or food with your hands.
  • Avoid touching doorknobs, handrails and elevator buttons in public places, and if you need to, use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand.
  • Stay two metres away from people and give a friendly wave instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.
  • Stay away from those who are sick and remind others who are sick, or may have been exposed to the virus, to stay away from you.
  • Change your routine to avoid crowded places (e.g., grocery shopping at off-peak hours).

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how the virus responsible for COVID-19 affects pregnant women. There is currently no conclusive evidence suggesting you are at greater risk if you are pregnant or that your unborn child could be affected by the virus.

However, there is emerging anecdotal evidence that a small number of pregnant women have had unforeseen complications due to COVID-19. You should continue to be followed by a physician for pre-natal care.

Pregnant women also experience changes that may increase the risk of other illnesses, such as viral respiratory infections and should take all necessary precautions:

  • Meet your health care team by telephone or videoconference except for necessary in-person medical appointments.
  • If you are working in an essential service, see if there are other work duties you can assume that will not require you to be on the front line of the pandemic. This is a cautionary approach, recognizing there is still much we don’t understand about COVID-19.
  • Stay home as much as possible and avoid contact with anyone who is not a member of your household.
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Practice physical distancing; cough or sneeze into a tissue or bent elbow; and limit trips to the grocery store, especially during peak hours.

Planning a pregnancy is a very personal decision. There is emerging anecdotal evidence that a small number of pregnant women have had unforeseen complications due to COVID-19.

If you haven’t already done so, discuss family planning with your health care provider, including all potential risks. Whether or not you decide to try to get pregnant at this time, it’s important to follow their recommendations about protecting yourself from illnesses.

Yes, it is believed to be safe to support local restaurants.

There is no evidence or reported cases that would suggest food being a likely source of transmission for the COVID-19 virus and this is being closely monitored by food safety authorities and scientists around the world. However, you must continue to practice physical distancing during food pick-up or delivery, and when dining at a patio or indoors. You should also wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. There is evidence that eating outdoors is safer than eating indoors. With takeout you may wish to transfer the food from containers into dishes, but make sure to wash your hands before and after the transfer. Whenever possible, consider using contactless payment methods.

There is no evidence to suggest raw food is less safe to order and consume than cooked food, as long as restaurant employees follow strict food preparation safety guidelines.

To protect yourself and others, practice physical distancing during food pick-up or delivery, and follow these measures:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food containers
  • Do not touch your face
  • Consider disinfecting the packaging

Current evidence suggests people are unlikely to contract COVID-19 through food. Experts also believe that the virus can be killed at the same internal cooking temperatures recommended to eliminate pathogens related to foodborne illnesses. Always follow the appropriate safety precautions when handling food, like washing your hands frequently.

While there have been reports of outbreaks in some food processing plants, the likelihood that the virus will affect meat products is minimal. Experts also believe the virus is inactivated at the same internal cooking temperatures (using the recommendations found here) used to safely eliminate pathogens related to foodborne illnesses.

Experts don’t know how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces in a cold environment.

Other coronaviruses in the same family can survive for long periods in a frozen state – up to two years. You may wish to follow these precautions when handling groceries:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling them.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Consider disinfecting the packaging before placing it in the freezer.

Other guidelines on safe food handling are available here.

The length of time it takes to become virus-free may depend on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. In mild cases, experts believe that most people recover on their own within 10-14 days from the start of their symptoms. In more severe cases, where patients are hospitalized, the recovery time may be longer.

It’s assumed that while a person is showing symptoms, they can be infectious to others. Remember that some people are asymptomatic and could be spreading the virus to others without knowing they’re carriers.

The 14-day duration is based on COVID-19’s total incubation period ― the time between catching it and beginning to show symptoms. Although it ranges between one day to 14 days, people often show symptoms around the fifth day. Anyone returning from travel abroad (and from certain provinces and territories ― be aware of your provincial/territorial requirements) or who has been exposed to the virus must self-isolate for 14 days.

If you aren’t showing any symptoms after 14 days, then it’s unlikely you have COVID-19.

We don’t know. Based on past pandemics, researchers can speculate that it will likely be under better control when several conditions are met. This includes continued physical distancing and proper personal hygiene practices, the availability of medication to treat those who become infected and the development and distribution of a vaccine to prevent infection.

Because you were in a hospital, you may have increased your risk of exposure to COVID-19. To protect yourself and others, it’s extremely important to follow the directives given to you upon discharge and adhere to self-isolation guidelines. If you’re unsure what to do, please call the number found on your discharge papers for additional information.

“COVID toes,” predominately seen in children, are bluish-red and purple lesions found on the toes and fingers and are a possible symptom of COVID-19 infection.

People react to infections in different ways. It’s quite common for people to get rashes or blotchy areas on the body when they’re battling a viral respiratory infection.

If you become concerned about your or your child’s symptoms, including a rash on the fingers or toes, you should contact your physician or local health authority (preferably by phone). They may recommend that you get tested and self-isolate.

It’s still unknown if you can catch COVID-19 from e-cigarette vapour. To reduce this possible risk, people should vape outside rather than indoors, while practicing physical (social) distancing. They should not share any smoking or vaping materials with others and should wash their hands before and after use.

Smoking and vaping tobacco or cannabis damages the lungs. Smokers and vapers are at higher risk of serious illness and complications if they get COVID-19. To protect yourself, consider quitting or reducing the amount you smoke or vape.

It’s preferable for individuals who are not from the same household to use separate vehicles. However, if you must carpool for an essential reason (e.g., work or a medical appointment), there are certain safety measures you can take. These include:

  • arranging the seating in the vehicle to allow at least two metres between passengers
  • limiting the number of individuals in the vehicle
  • wearing a non-medical mask
  • disinfecting the vehicle between uses

As the pandemic evolves, you should regularly review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with others.

Intimacy between individuals from separate households may not be safe. However, as the pandemic evolves, and provinces start to ease restrictions, you should regularly review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with others outside your household.

As an alternative to personal interaction, you may consider non-contact options (phone, online) if you are both comfortable with this approach.

If the space was cleaned properly, the surfaces in your office should present little to no risk for infection. However, there is a risk that it has spread to other employees — even if they have no symptoms. If you can’t work remotely, preventive measures like physical distancing and proper hygiene in the office can help lower your risk of infection.

To provide their employees with a safe working environment, employers should follow their local public health department’s current recommendations.

Canadians have been asked to practice physical (social) distancing, which means avoiding anyone who doesn’t live in your household, including other family members and significant others.

As the pandemic evolves , you should regularly review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with others outside your household.

A pulse oximeter is a small probe that clips to your finger to measure and monitor oxygen saturation in your blood. Some people with lung or heart disease use these devices to monitor and adjust their oxygen levels.

Based on what we know, some people in the later stages of COVID-19 infection will experience a drop in blood oxygen levels. Most people who have it will usually experience other symptoms early on including fever, dry cough, body aches or fatigue. In some patients however, oxygen levels can be low even in the absence of significant respiratory symptoms. Experts aren’t certain which patients are likelier to experience this symptom.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to monitor your blood oxygen levels, one of the easiest ways to do it is by using a pulse oximeter. If you are wondering whether you should get one, consult your health care provider.

Temperature aside, experts have indicated that properly maintaining hot tubs and pools should inactivate the virus in water (including proper disinfection with chlorine and bromine).

When using these facilities, physical (social) distancing remains very important. While it’s unlikely you will pick up the virus in the water, you could get it from someone else who is infected if you don’t maintain a two-metre distance.

Yes, you should continue taking your medications as prescribed. If you stop, you could develop complications and require medical care. Before taking your medication, you should:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Take your medication.
  3. Wash your hands again.
  4. Dry your hands with paper towel or a clean cloth towel that is replaced after every use.

Although evidence suggests COVID-19 can continue to live on someone’s body once they die, the length of time it remains contagious is unknown.

Professionals handling remains for funerary processes should protect themselves by following the usual infection control procedures and wearing appropriate PPE. As a precaution, others should avoid contact with the body altogether. If someone has had any contact, they should thoroughly wash their hands immediately.

Many transplant recipients are considered to be more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Hospitals are postponing non-essential surgeries until it’s safe for both donors and recipients. Urgent, lifesaving organ donations and transplants are proceeding on a case-by-case basis, weighing the potential risk of infection against the risk of delaying.

Experts aren’t sure whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through organ donation. As a precaution and to protect people waiting for transplants, only organs from candidates who test negative for COVID-19 can be used.

The most important thing you can do right now is help prevent the spread of the virus. Here’s a short list of steps you can take to reduce the burden on our health care system and medical providers:

  • Stay home whenever possible.
  • Practice physical distancing by always staying at least two metres apart from others.
  • Practice good hygiene, including washing your hands well and often.
  • Continue to contact your physician for other health issues that need to be addressed. Delaying care could worsen your condition, and it’s important to look after your health. Many physicians provide virtual consultations and, if necessary, in-person visits.

Physical (social) distancing means minimizing close contact with others. It means:

  • keeping a distance of at least two metres from others
  • avoiding crowded places, gatherings and personal greetings (e.g. handshake)
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk (older adults and those in poor health)

No, they are not the same.

Self-isolate (quarantine) means staying home for 14 days and monitoring for symptoms, avoiding contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus and practicing physical (social) distancing.

Canadians must self-isolate (quarantine) if they have:

  • returned from travel outside of Canada
  • had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19
  • been told by public health to do so

Isolate means staying home for a minimum of 14 days from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and avoiding contact with others in your home (staying at least two metres apart, separate living and sleeping areas, frequent cleaning of “high-touch” areas). Individuals who must isolate have:

  • been diagnosed or are waiting for test results for COVID-19
  • experienced, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
  • been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19
  • been advised by public health to do so
  • returned from travel outside Canada and have symptoms of COVID-19 (mandatory)

A second wave is underway in most of the country, where spikes in new cases of COVID-19 are being reported. A second wave refers to new cases that emerge after months of seeing few or no infections.

Experts are monitoring the experiences of countries where the epidemic started earlier. Regardless, it is fair to say that this is one of many reasons why it will be especially important for people to be vaccinated against influenza this year.

Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that cold weather can get rid of COVID-19. If anything, the winter will pose additional challenges in controlling the spread of the virus. The most effective way to protect yourself against the virus is by washing your hands well and often with either soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, maintaining physical distance from others and consistently wearing a face mask when in public.

It’s very important to note that a negative test does not always mean that you do not have COVID-19. In some cases it may mean you don’t have the virus, but in other cases it may mean that you were tested shortly after exposure, before enough of the virus had built up in your body to be detected. There’s also the possibility of false-negative test results.

As such, it remains critically important that Canadians continue to follow public health measures ― maintaining physical (social) distancing, avoiding non-essential travel, practicing good hygiene, etc. ― particularly if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but even if you do not.

Current evidence suggests people are unlikely to contract COVID-19 through food. Experts also believe that the virus can be killed at the same internal cooking temperatures recommended to eliminate pathogens related to foodborne illnesses. Always follow the appropriate safety precautions when handling food, like washing your hands frequently.

These are difficult times, and decisions like these must take into consideration several different factors. The decisions you make affect your health and the health of others.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Canadians have been asked to practice physical (social) distancing.
  • It appears that older people may be more likely to develop serious illness than others.
  • Socializing outdoors is preferred to indoors.
  • Review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with people outside your household. If you’re thinking of visiting family in another area [or region], you should also review the guidance of the local public health authority where they live.

These are difficult situations to navigate. Individuals must be careful and thoughtful when making decisions that affect their health and the health of others.

As part of your decision-making process, you should know who your family members have come into contact with in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Are they front-line health care workers, or are they in contact with front-line health care workers? Do they need to go out daily to work? Their exposure could put you at greater risk if you spend time together in one of your homes.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Public health recommendations and guidance regarding gatherings remain the same over the holiday season. Canadians can’t let down their guard — we must remain vigilant. It is best to stay home and only be in close contact with people in your immediate household. Review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with people outside your household.

It’s been a difficult year for Canadians. Every day we’re faced with tough choices. Everyone is encouraged to continue to follow local/provincial recommendations and to “do the right thing.” If you see others appearing not to follow the rules, try to remember that everyone reacts differently to the stress resulting from the pandemic restrictions and try to empathize. Messaging from various sources can be confusing and we also don’t know everyone’s individual situation. The people gathering in your neighbourhood may have self-isolated for 14 days for this opportunity to meet friends and family. Focus instead on how to make the upcoming holidays as cheerful as possible for you and your loved ones, even from a distance. Please continue to be vigilant and a role model for those around you.

Individuals with non-severe cases of COVID-19 can usually resume normal activities after 14 days of self-isolation (or as directed by your local public health authority) following the onset of symptoms. This is provided the symptoms are improving and the individual has been fever-free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. For more severe cases, individuals should follow their doctor’s advice before resuming contact with others.

The safest way to celebrate or enjoy the holidays is with members of your immediate household. Should you decide to interact with family outside of your household there are some factors to keep in mind whether they have had COVID-19 and recovered, or not:

Public health recommendations and guidance regarding gatherings remain the same over the holiday season. It is best to stay home and be in close contact only with people in your immediate household.

However, this may be very difficult for some people, for various personal reasons.

Only you know your comfort level in making this decision. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as part of your decision-making process:

  1. Are you (or is anyone in your household) experiencing any symptoms or waiting for test results?
  2. Will everyone at the social gathering wear a mask?
  3. Will you be able to stay two metres apart from those outside your household?
  4. How many guests are attending?
  5. Can you bring your own food and drinks?
  6. Will you be able to wash or sanitize your hands frequently?
  7. Will there be a dedicated bathroom for guests?
  8. Will you be able to avoid hugging, kissing and shaking hands?
  9. Will your host adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures?

Once you’ve thought through your answers to the above questions, if you feel uncomfortable attending the gathering then it’s okay to say so. Perhaps this year, plan an outdoor activity such as a walk, snowshoeing or skating, meet virtually or simply say “no thank you” to reduce the risks.

You can use your home’s air conditioning system if everyone in the household is healthy. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can spread through passages such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts and systems, although other coronaviruses have been shown to spread via these routes.

Experts don’t know how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces in a cold environment. The virus is mainly transmitted through droplets that are generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. The droplets fall to the floor or to other surfaces, as they are too heavy to stay in the air for very long.

No, hand dryers are not effective in killing coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water and then dry them completely with either paper towel or a warm hand dryer. Alternatively, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

When booking the service call, be sure to inquire about precautionary measures the company has put in place, such as the technician wearing a mask. If you’re comfortable with their approach, you can proceed with the appointment.

Here are some additional steps you can take:

  • Right before the appointment, wipe down door handles and any surfaces the technician will touch.
  • If you need to discuss an issue related to the repair, do so outdoors whenever possible.
  • Maintain a two-metre distance from the technician. If this is not possible, consider wearing a mask and gloves during the appointment.
  • After the appointment, disinfect any surfaces that may have been touched during the repair.

Many provinces are gradually allowing the resumption of household cleaning services. In addition to maintaining physical distancing, practicing proper hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face, here are other precautions to follow if you are considering this option:

  • Avoid sharing the airspace by stepping out of the house, if possible, or self-isolating in a room not being cleaned.
  • Ensure both clients and workers are free from COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Disinfect or replace cleaning tools like mops and sponges after each use or between each residence.
  • Use vacuums and other cleaning materials supplied by the homeowner whenever possible to prevent contamination being spread from one home to another. If this is not possible, they should be disinfected before use.
  • Open windows and doors for ventilation, if weather permits.
  • The cleaner and homeowner should consider wearing masks.

Health Canada has created a list of these products that are likely appropriate for killing coronaviruses including the one that causes COVID-19. The list can be found here. To avoid serious incidents please take necessary precautions when cleaning with bleach.

What’s important to remember is that we need to clean surfaces often that are frequently used and/or touched. Some of these high-touch surfaces include toys, phones, door handles, sink and toilet handles, light switches and counters.

Practicing proper hygiene is extremely important for people working in high-risk environments. Not only should you adhere to the infection prevention and control measures in effect at your place of employment, you should also consider taking the following steps to help protect your family when you return home:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Remove your clothes, wash them right away and place them in the dryer for a full cycle.
  • Shower.
  • Clean and disinfect your shoes, pens, badge and other high-touch items.
  • Self-isolate if you become symptomatic, either within the home or at another location (e.g., a hotel).

One of the most effective ways to prevent infection is by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. Experts recommend you use running water to wash them (whether it’s potable or not) because there is some risk of infection if the standing water has been contaminated.

To thoroughly wash your hands, you must:

  • Use soap and warm running water (use cold water if warm water isn’t available).
  • Wash for 20 seconds, making sure you get soap on your palms, fingers, thumbs, back of your hands and under your nails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands thoroughly with clean paper towel or a clean dry cloth.

Use a paper towel to turn off the tap.

COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets that are expelled during coughing, sneezing or speaking. These droplets don’t travel very far and quickly fall to the ground as they’re relatively heavy. There’s currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is transmitted through particles floating in the air. It’s best, however, to hang your clothes in a wide-open area away from crowded spaces, bring them in only when they’re fully dry, and wash your hands regularly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It is possible that COVID-19 can remain on clothes for hours to days, but there is no conclusive evidence or data at this point.

Here are some simple steps you can take to minimize the risk of transmission from laundry (clothing, bed linens, towels, etc.):

  • Wear gloves (if possible)
  • Wash your hands well after handling items (whether you’re wearing gloves or not)
  • Refrain from touching your face (nose, eyes, mouth)
  • Don’t shake out the laundry before putting it in the washing machine
  • Use the warmest water possible to wash items and then dry completely
  • Disinfect any surfaces the laundry items have touched

These precautions can be helpful if you’re worried about transmission from someone who has the virus or works on the front lines, or to protect those who are immunocompromised.

Yes, but remember to practice physical distancing by staying at least two metres (or six feet) away from them.

As the pandemic evolves and provinces start to ease restrictions, you should regularly review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with others outside your household.

Experts are still trying to understand if and how COVID-19 affects animals, including pets and livestock.

Whether or not your pets can get sick, the virus could be transmitted to another person through contact with their fur or body.

Until more is known about human to animal transmission, take similar precautions if you have symptoms as you would with other people (i.e. avoid close contact and practice good handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette). Also:

  • Have another member of your household care for your animals if possible.
  • If not, always wash your hands before and after touching them, their food and supplies.

If you don’t have symptoms, you can continue to take walks together, but remember to practice physical distancing ― for both you and your pet.

It’s fine to open your window and let in the fresh air! It’s also okay to spend time outdoors if you maintain two metres of physical distance from others who are not part of your household.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets that are generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. The droplets fall to the floor or to other surfaces, as they are too heavy to stay in the air for very long.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended that Canadians wear non-medical grade or homemade masks in situations where people are unable to consistently remain two metres away from others.

When making the (personal) decision about how best to protect yourself, here are some things to keep in mind about face shields:

  • By wearing cloth masks individuals are limiting the spread of respiratory droplets released when people breathe, talk and cough.
  • Face shields leave space around the chin and the sides of your face so respiratory droplets may not be contained as they would be with a cloth mask.
  • Evidence shows that while face shields are not as effective as wearing a properly fitted mask, they are better than wearing nothing.
  • Face shields could be considered as an option for those who are unable to wear a face mask.

Masks alone are not protection against COVID-19. Hand washing, coughing into your elbow, not touching your face and maintaining a two-metre distance are still among the best ways to prevent infection.

It’s recommended that Canadians wear a non-medical grade (or homemade) mask in situations where they are unable to consistently remain two metres away from others (using public transit or at a grocery store, for example). Recommendations will vary by province, specific location and the situation at hand, so it is important to be aware of, and follow, the directives in your area.

When wearing a mask, be aware of the following:

  • A mask is not a replacement for physical distancing. The best protection against COVID-19 is to remain two metres away from others. Don’t let a mask give you a false sense of security.
  • There’s a potential risk of infection when putting on, taking off, and throwing out a mask. Treat the mask as if it is infected; do not touch the mask while wearing it and wash hands thoroughly any time the mask is handled, including after it is removed.
  • When wearing a mask, ensure that it completely covers your nose and mouth.
  • You should not share masks with others.
  • Change cloth masks as soon as they are damp and soiled. Launder in hot water.
  • Often, people who use masks touch their face more frequently to adjust the mask — a well-known risk factor for introducing viruses and bacteria into the body.
  • For those who wear glasses, an effective way to prevent them from fogging up is to use a mask with a nose bridge to keep the air from going up your glasses.
  • It’s important to wear sunscreen, full coverage SPF, even if you’re wearing a mask, to protect your skin.

It’s important to understand that not all masks are the same. Health care workers wear specific types of masks because they’re in regular contact with people who have infections, including but not limited to COVID-19. Understanding what makes masks different is important. Here are some common mask types and their intended use:

  • N95 masks are tight fitting and designed to provide a close seal around the nose and mouth. They prevent approximately 95% of small airborne particles from entering a person’s mouth or nose (hence the name “N95”). They’re used by front line health care workers.
  • Surgical or medical masks are looser fitting than N95 masks, more flexible and disposable. They’re considered effective against large droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes. These masks are worn by health care workers. Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms or those caring for someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19 should also wear this mask type.
  • Cloth masks are often handmade and can be washed and reused. The effectiveness of cloth masks has not been studied. It’s likely they protect people around the mask wearer, not necessarily the person wearing it.

In addition to masks, health care workers also use other personal protective equipment to provide further protection from the virus. This includes gowns, gloves, other facial protection (eye protection, face shields or masks with visor attachments) and respirators.

Reusing N95 masks after sealing them in a bag is not recommended. There is no evidence to suggest this would sterilize or clean the mask. Members of the public don’t need N95 masks for daily activities.

The Canadian government has asked citizens to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing physical (social) distancing. Mask or no mask, this is the most effective way of reducing transmission right now. That means staying home as much as possible (only going out for essential items) and staying at least two metres apart from others.

We do know that people with no symptoms can transmit COVID-19 to others. Even if we are diligent with our hygiene, we must treat every interaction as a risk because we don’t know who could be carrying the virus.

As the pandemic evolves, you should regularly review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with others outside your household.

Homemade masks should be made with tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric, cotton sheets, t-shirts or bandanas. As a rule, if you can see through the fabric, it isn’t tightly woven.

A mask should consist of at least two layers and must be big enough to cover the nose and mouth without gaping. Additionally, the mask must:

  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • Allow for easy breathing
  • Be comfortable so it doesn’t require regular adjustment
  • Be changed as soon as it becomes damp or dirty
  • Maintain its shape after washing and drying

Guidance from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer instructs everyone to wear non-surgical grade masks when physical distancing is not possible.

To protect yourself and others, practice physical distancing during food pick-up or delivery, in-restaurant or patio dining, and follow these measures:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food containers.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Consider disinfecting the packaging.

We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and how it spreads. While we do know that people are affected differently based on their health and any underlying conditions, there is no evidence to support that wearing a mask will worsen illness for those who have already been diagnosed.

Talk to your health care provider if you need guidance on treatment and recovery.

Pharmacies, grocery stores and home improvement/renovation stores are likely to carry masks; however, availability and stock may vary from store to store and location to location.

If you can’t find a mask at a retailer, you may choose to create your own cloth face mask with supplies found at home. Homemade masks should be made with tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric, cotton sheets, t-shirts or bandanas. As a rule, if you can see through the fabric, it isn’t tightly woven.

A mask should consist of three layers. Two layers should be tightly woven material fabric (e.g. cotton) and the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric (e.g. non-woven polypropylene fabric). The mask must be big enough to cover the nose and mouth without gaping. Additionally, the mask must:

  • Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • Allow for easy breathing
  • Be comfortable so it doesn’t require regular adjustment
  • Be changed as soon as it becomes damp or dirty, and washed in hot water
  • Maintain its shape after washing and drying

These are very difficult times. As a friend, try to stay connected, while respecting physical distancing measures. Consider regular virtual check-ins, by phone or video. If you feel the situation is urgent or that there’s an immediate risk to your friend, call 9-1-1.

Other support services include:

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Crisis Services Canada national line: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 (in Quebec, call: 1-866-277-3553).

These are very difficult times. As a friend, try to stay connected while respecting physical distancing measures, and consider regular virtual check-ins by phone or video. If you feel the situation is urgent or that there’s an immediate risk to your friend, call 9-1-1.

Other support services include:

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Crisis Services Canada national line: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 (in Quebec, call: 1-866-277-3553).

For more information on taking care of your mental and physical health during the pandemic click here.

The feelings children may be experiencing about COVID-19 are normal. Here are some suggestions to help them cope:

  • Stay connected with friends and family while respecting physical distancing.
  • Keep a routine to provide children with structure. Build in time for enough sleep, proper nutrition, exercise and outdoor play. It is important to balance time spent on learning and school work with social and leisure activities.
  • Focus on doing activities they enjoy. For example, spend time together reading, playing games and doing arts and crafts. Try to spend time outdoors as much as possible.
  • Seek help if you need it:
    • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
    • If the risk is immediate, call 9-1-1.

The pandemic has affected our lives and maintaining good mental health might be a struggle some days, especially with colder weather upon us. Here are some tips Canadians can take to support positive mental health. They include:

  • Keep moving/exercise – Try to do some physical activity, whatever your fitness level is. If possible, exercise outside. When this is not possible, find indoor exercise options. There are now many free online videos and programs available to help you to stay active inside your home.
  • Stay connected – Pick up the phone or send a letter or email to check in on your friends and family.
  • Learn something new – Be creative and develop some new skills. Being able to keep busy and focus on something that makes you happy might lift your spirits.
  • Be kind, be charitable – It’s difficult to volunteer currently but consider donating to a food bank or to a charity. Acts of kindness can go a long way toward improving mental health.
  • Stay informed – Keep up to date but be sure to take frequent breaks from social media and the news.
  • Reap the benefits of gratitude – Write down three things you’re grateful for every day.

For more information on taking care of your mental and physical health during the pandemic click here.

It’s good that you’ve recognized that you might need some additional support. It’s better to seek that help sooner, rather than later.

Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in feeling the way that you do. People all around the world, from all walks of life, are having difficulty coping with the many challenges caused by the pandemic.

One option, if you’re comfortable, is to reach out to your family and friends to talk about how you’re feeling. If that’s not an option, contact your local health care provider to talk through your feelings and create a plan to manage your care more formally.

If you feel the risk is serious and immediate, call 9-1-1.

For more information on taking care of your mental and physical health during the pandemic click here.

The pandemic has taken a toll on a lot of people. You may feel like you’re no longer in control; it’s normal. Some common feelings include:

  • a sense of being socially excluded
  • concern about your children’s education and well-being
  • concern about your aging parents
  • fear of getting sick or making others sick
  • worry about your job or finances
  • missing your loved ones
  • helplessness, boredom and loneliness

Know that you’re not alone:

  • In any given non-pandemic year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels and cultures.
  • Almost half of people with depression or anxiety symptoms have never gone to see a doctor about these symptoms.

Mental illness affects all of us — it does not discriminate. That’s why awareness is so important.

If you’re comfortable, reach out to your family and friends to talk about how you’re feeling. If that’s not an option, contact your local health care provider to talk through your feelings and create a plan to manage your care more formally.

If you feel the risk is serious and immediate, call 9-1-1.

For more information on taking care of your mental and physical health during the pandemic click here.

There are several safe ways, even during a pandemic, to lift someone’s spirits with a meaningful or thoughtful gift. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mail a gift card or send one electronically.
  • Drop off a gift at the doorstep such as yummy home-baked goods, the person’s favourite ice cream or a meal from a local restaurant.
  • Create and email a video with photo memories or share it with the person via an online file-sharing service.
  • Courier other gifts such as clothing or household items.

Remember to practice physical distancing if you are dropping off a gift in person and exercise proper hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.

These are difficult times, and decisions like these must take into consideration several factors. The decisions you make will affect your health and the health of others.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Canadians have been asked to practice physical (social) distancing.
  • Socializing outdoors is preferred to indoors.
  • If you’re thinking of visiting friends in another region, you should also review the guidance of the local public health authority where they live, as well as relevant travel advisories.

For some tips on how to maintain your mental health during the pandemic, please see: The pandemic has been going on for months now with no end in sight. What can I do to maintain my mental health?

Unfortunately, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is, you can still catch COVID-19.

Regular physical activity is important. It’s best to train at home or outdoors. If you’re practicing physical distancing guidelines and good hygiene, there’s no evidence that exercising outdoors increases the risk of being infected.

Exercising in a recreational facility or yoga studio poses potential risks of COVID-19 infection, due to the proximity of people and shared equipment. It’s possible to transmit the virus through person-to-person contact, touching a contaminated surface or from aerosols/droplets from an infected individual.

Several studies have evaluated the intake of specific nutrients in relation to other infections. There is some evidence that zinc and vitamin C supplements may have some benefit for respiratory infections, but it’s not conclusive. There are many factors to consider before starting a supplementation program, including the medications you are currently taking.

Take precautionary measures when supplementing, as megadoses of essential minerals and vitamins can sometimes be harmful. Supplements should not be considered as substitutes for a healthy diet. Consider eating a variety of healthy foods each day, according to Canada’s Food Guide, and speak with a physician before starting a specific supplementation program.

These are difficult situations to navigate. Individuals must be careful and thoughtful when making decisions that affect their health and the health of others.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

As part of your decision-making process, you should also understand where your friend has been going and who they have seen. For example, perhaps they have a relative who is a frontline health care worker who could be at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Returning to work during a pandemic is a very personal choice. When making your decision it will be important to factor in the following:

  • COVID-19 infects people of all ages, but some people are at a higher risk of severe illness. These include people who are over 65 and/or have underlying medical conditions.
  • People with weakened immune systems appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with COVID-19.
  • Ensure that your workplace has implemented new guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection. These include routine cleaning and disinfecting protocols, as well as a protocol on how to manage reported incidents of COVID-19.

As a senior who is immune compromised, returning to work at this time is probably not in your best interest from a medical standpoint. For more information on how to best protect yourself if you decide to return to work, please visit the What’s Next section of this site.

This is a very personal and difficult decision to make. Each situation is unique, and there are many individual factors to consider. Retirement homes and similar facilities have updated their outbreak control measures to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 to residents and staff.

This is a very personal and difficult decision to make. Each situation is unique, and there are a lot of individual factors to consider, including whether you are able to provide the care they require and if there are people in your home who are at risk of more serious complications if they get infected.

Retirement homes and similar facilities have updated their outbreak control measures to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. They include:

  • revising cleaning procedures
  • closing the dining room and stopping all resident activities
  • requiring all staff members to wear masks to work at only one facility
  • revising their medication administration schedule
  • screening anyone entering the building

Hospitals have also greatly reduced transferring patients to facilities, even if they are asymptomatic. When this is not possible, the patient must be tested prior to the transfer, and must remain in self-isolation for 14 days even if they test negative.

It’s very important not to ignore regular health care. Please call ahead before going to your appointment as the office should also be able to suggest the best option for your care.

Many ‘high-risk’ institutions are restricting or preventing visits to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Please call ahead before visiting in person.

If you or a member of your family requires urgent care and have been instructed to visit the nearest emergency department, be prepared to be screened upon arrival for symptoms, travel and contact history. While you’re at the hospital and upon discharge, follow the directives you’ve been given closely.

There’s still a lot to learn about COVID-19, but it appears that older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, dementia, stroke or weakened immune systems) may be more likely to develop serious illness than others. Symptoms of serious illness include difficulty breathing and/or pneumonia.

COVID-19 is a new virus and we don’t know how long it lives on skin or hair. It’s important to follow proper hygiene to help reduce your risk of infection or of spreading infection to others.

There is not enough research available on the effect heat may have on inactivating the COVID-19 virus. Experts believe the virus is probably inactivated at the same internal cooking temperatures recommended to safely eliminate pathogens related to foodborne illnesses. More information on safe cooking temperatures can be found here.

Take appropriate safety measures, such as washing your hands, when handling food. Continue to practice food safety when cooking, as you would under normal circumstances.

We know the virus can survive on various surfaces, depending on different factors. For newspapers, it appears the virus could survive from a few hours to a few days, but it’s not known if it would be infectious this entire time.

However, the virus could be transmitted by touch if an infected person handled the paper before it was delivered. If you want to be cautious, consider wiping down the outer surfaces of the paper with a disinfectant wipe before reading it. While there are no conclusive reports of the virus being transmitted this way, there is still much we don’t understand about it.

When handling any objects that may have come in contact with the virus it’s important to take precautions, such as washing your hands before and afterwards and not touching your face.

There’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by handling money. However, people should remain vigilant. Always wash your hands well after touching any currency consider using contactless payment methods whenever possible.

The COVID-19 virus can survive on hard surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on different factors. For phones with smooth glass and/or plastic surfaces, current evidence suggests that a coronavirus could survive for up to nine days, although we don’t know if it would be infectious this entire time.

To reduce the risk of infection, disinfect your cellphone by gently wiping down the display screen, the keyboard and the exterior with a disinfecting wipe. Continue to practice good hygiene and wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 has been detected on surfaces between a few hours to a few days. This variation depends on factors like temperature, humidity and the type of surface.

To reduce the risk of infection, disinfect high-touch surfaces often using disinfectants or diluted bleach.

To date, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus has been transmitted to people in this way.

While the virus can survive on some hard surfaces, you can’t inhale the virus from grocery bags, products or packages. However, it is possible that the virus could be transmitted by touch if the package has been handled recently by an infected person, and precautions should be taken accordingly.

When handling groceries or packages, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling them.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Keep non-perishable items you don’t need right away elsewhere for a few days (e.g. car, garage).
  • Use contactless payment and delivery if available. Have your food dropped off at the doorstep.
  • Keep your distance from the delivery person (approximately two metres).

It may take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to COVID-19. Evidence shows that the virus can be transmitted by someone who is infected but showing some to no symptoms. People can be pre-symptomatic and not yet develop symptoms or asymptomatic and never develop symptoms.

Keep in mind as well that some people initially test negative for the virus but later go on to test positive. In general, if someone has symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 infection, and they meet the requirements for testing in their jurisdiction, they should proceed with testing even if someone in their household has already tested negative.

In all cases, it is extremely important to follow proper hygiene and preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The common cold, seasonal allergies and COVID-19 share some similar symptoms, like a runny nose and nasal congestion. One of the main indicators of COVID-19, particularly in more serious cases, is fever. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 can also experience other symptoms such as tiredness, dry cough, aches and pains, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or body aches.

However, many people with COVID-19 have very mild symptoms and may not develop a fever, while others will present with more unusual symptoms such as confusion and disorientation. The only way to conclusively diagnose COVID-19 is through testing.

The most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever and chills
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • new loss of smell or taste
  • headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • feeling unwell

In very young patients, there have been reports of rashes and skin changes on the hands and feet.

Elderly people may present differently depending on the severity of the illness. In some cases, it may manifest as confusion, lethargy or increased risk of falling.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. Up to half of those infected with the virus will not experience any symptoms but could still pass along the infection to other people.

Our individual immune systems could be one reason why some people experience mild symptoms and others experience more severe symptoms. Someone with a strong, healthy immune system may become infected but show few symptoms while someone with a compromised immune system would be considered at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. There is also early evidence that genetics and blood type may be factors in determining who experiences more serious symptoms.

COVID-19 is a new virus that the medical community is still learning about.

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how the virus responsible for COVID-19 spreads.

Yes, experts believe this is occurring. One could be infected with COVID-19 and have few to no symptoms, or symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear. This is why it’s important for everyone to practise physical distancing — it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at this time.

If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, call 911.  This would include symptoms such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty breathing, new confusion or difficulty waking up. If your symptoms are serious or worsening, call your health care provider or your local public health authority and ask for guidance.  If your symptoms are mild, you should self-monitor, isolate yourself in your home for 14 days and minimize contact with others in your home (e.g. wear a mask) to avoid spreading the virus. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend steps to take to relieve symptoms.

Since symptoms can be absent or similar to other illnesses, the only way to confirm whether you have COVID-19 is through laboratory testing. Contact your local public health authority for details on testing facilities in your area.

The common cold, the flu and COVID-19 share some similar symptoms, like fever, fatigue, cough, aches and pains, sore throat and loss of appetite. Someone infected with COVID-19 may experience any of these symptoms, and their symptoms can range from mild to severe. Two of the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and cough (usually dry). People with COVID-19 rarely experience sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, or diarrhea.

The symptoms of a common cold appear gradually, while for the flu there’s an abrupt onset of symptoms.

The similarity of the symptoms for the common cold, flu and COVID-19 may make it harder to determine whether a person has COVID-19 or something else. The only way to be sure is through COVID-19 testing.

It’s very important to note that a negative test does not always mean that you do not have COVID-19. In some cases it may mean you don’t have the virus, but in other cases it may mean that you were tested shortly after exposure, before enough of the virus had built up in your body to be detected. There’s also the possibility of false-negative test results.

As such, it remains critically important that Canadians continue to follow public health measures ― maintaining physical (social) distancing, avoiding non-essential travel, practicing good hygiene etc. ― particularly if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

A negative test result does not necessarily mean you do not have COVID-19 or that you have not been exposed to the virus. Depending on the type of work you do, you should check with your employer regarding specific requirements to follow before you can return to work.

If your test results are negative but you are still showing symptoms, you may be required to continue to self-isolate until your symptoms are gone for at least 48 hours. If you were asymptomatic when you were tested but you then start to show symptoms after testing, you may need to be retested and continue to self-isolate.

You will generally be required to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of your test results, if you were tested for any of the following reasons:

  • You were travelling out of the country or certain provinces/territories.
  • You were exposed to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • You have been in contact with someone who has returned from outside the country or certain provinces/territories and who is showing symptoms.

COVID-19 test results are reported back to individuals differently depending on which province/territory you live in. If you’ve been tested but are not sure how or when you’ll receive your result, you should consult the public health authority in your region.

Employers have been encouraged not to burden the health care system by requesting sick notes related to COVID-19. However, if you believe your employer will require proof of illness, you should ask for one at the testing centre. They may have a sick note template available.

If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate at home. Don’t go into work, whether you’ve been tested or not, until your symptoms go away.

Health Canada has approved the first COVID-19 serological test, which detects antibodies specific to the virus. This test will be used in labs across the country to help identify:

  • Those who have an immune response to the virus
  • Those who have been infected by the virus (even in asymptomatic cases)

Some experts have cautioned that even someone who tests positive for antibodies doesn’t necessarily have immunity and for those who do have immunity, we don’t know how long it will last.

Health Canada plans to test at least one million blood samples from the general population and specific groups (including those at high risk, such as health care workers and seniors) over the next two years. Details on the availability of serological testing are still to be announced.

Antibody testing can help determine whether someone has had an immune response to a virus. For example, when someone is infected with a virus, their body responds by producing antibodies to fight it.

An antibody blood test could also reveal who has been infected with COVID-19 ― even in asymptomatic cases.

Some experts have cautioned that someone who tests positive for antibodies doesn’t necessarily have immunity, and even for those who do, we do not know the length of time this immunity will last.

Testing and assessment centre locations vary from province to province, so it’s important to check your local area for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Some provinces have created online self-assessment tools to help determine whether you may have COVID-19 and need medical attention. In addition, each province has different requirements that people must meet before getting tested – for example, the presence of specific symptoms. You should be able to find this information on your local public health unit’s website.

No testing method will detect COVID-19 accurately every single time. Tests may come back negative for a number of reasons, including:

  • Timing: If the test was done too early or too late in the course of the infection.
  • Issues with the sample: In collection, transport or processing of the specimen (e.g. if the swab does not reach the virus or isn’t transported at the correct temperature).
  • The test itself: Almost all clinical tests have some percentage of false negative results.

Negative test results do not rule out a COVID-19 infection, and if you still have symptoms you should continue to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Government of Canada and some provinces have online self-assessment tools you can use to help determine whether or not you have COVID-19 and need medical attention.

You will be required to answer a series of questions about your symptoms and possible exposure. Based on your answers, these tools will provide you with next steps. For example, if you indicate you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you will be instructed to seek emergency medical care: severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, confusion, loss of consciousness.

British Columbia has developed and launched a new way to collect samples from school-aged children. It involves swishing and gargling a saline solution (salt water) and then spitting into a tube. The sample collection can be done at home, as it does not require a health care professional to collect a sample. If a child is not able to follow the instructions for this new method, they can still get a nasopharyngeal swab.

At this time, it is unknown when this new test will be available to adults in all provinces.

The most accurate form of COVID-19 testing is done through a nasal swab.

No. Just because someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19 it doesn’t mean everyone in your household will become ill — but you should of course be concerned about this possibility and take measures to prevent it. Here are some important safety measures to keep in mind to reduce the spread of the virus in your home:

  • Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, washing your hands, limiting the time you spend in the same room as the person who has COVID-19, and cleaning and disinfecting your home.
  • Avoid sharing items such as food, drinks, eating utensils and electronic devices.
  • If possible, dedicate a “sick bedroom and bathroom” for the person with the infection to limit exposure.
  • Have the person with the infection eat their meals in a separate space apart from everyone else in the home.
  • When possible, choose someone who is not at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to care for the person with the infection. The caregiver should self-monitor for symptoms.

Additionally, anyone who is aware that they have been exposed to someone with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate and watch for symptoms for 14 days and check their local and provincial/territorial requirements for being tested themselves.

The period of communicability is still not well understood. More research is required to understand exactly when a person becomes contagious to others and for how long this lasts. As well, we do not know how this relates to viral loads or positive tests. We do know that even people without symptoms can be contagious.

For mild cases, experts think that individuals are no longer infectious after 14 days (from illness onset). If you are still experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever) and your condition has not improved after 14 days, you are probably still infectious. A cough is not a good indicator. You may still be infectious even if you do not have a cough and, conversely, some people have a chronic cough even though they are not infected with COVID-19.

Two consecutive negative laboratory test results, at least 24 hours apart, can help to determine the end of the communicable period. If you are in doubt, you should contact your health care provider for further information and guidance.

No, viruses do not travel on radio waves or mobile networks and cannot be transmitted via these routes. COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person to another person.

At present, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can spread through passages such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts and systems.

What we do know is that COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Close, prolonged personal contact (e.g. handshake).
  • Respiratory droplets (e.g. coughing or sneezing).
  • Touching a contaminated object or surface, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Yes. Anyone who is aware that they have been exposed to someone who has a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 should isolate for 14 days.

Check your local public health unit’s website for the most accurate and up-to-date information on whether you should get tested, and where to go to get a test if you need one. Some provinces have created online self-assessment tools to help determine whether you may have COVID-19 and need medical attention. In addition, each province and territory has different requirements that people must meet before getting tested — for example, the presence of specific symptoms.

No. There’s no current evidence to suggest that mosquitoes or ticks carry and transmit COVID-19.

Yes. Coronaviruses, including the virus causing COVID-19, do mutate. Researchers from around the world are still determining how possible mutations may affect populations. At this point, there’s no evidence to suggest the mutations have increased the likelihood of being infected with the virus or of developing complications once infected.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets, which are generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can become infected if they breathe in these droplets. Some of these droplets also land on surfaces. Other people can catch the virus if they touch these contaminated surfaces and then touch their nose, eyes or mouth.

It is not yet clear whether someone can become infected if, for example, they walk through and inhale virus particles present in a fine mist after an infected person coughs or sneezes.

COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person to another person through:

  • respiratory droplets (e.g., from coughing or sneezing)
  • close, prolonged personal contact (e.g., shaking hands)
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your face (mouth, nose or eyes) before washing your hands

Evidence suggests that spreading the virus from person to person is efficient when there is close contact. This is why physical distancing measures are so important to reduce transmission of the virus within the community.

There are a couple of factors that help the virus spread quickly. Information suggests that the virus may persist on many surfaces for several hours or even days. It is not clear how many infections occur in this manner. The virus is also airborne and can be spread via coughing or sneezing.

Evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who are pre-symptomatic (have not developed symptoms) or asymptomatic (never develop symptoms).

This is why physical distancing, wearing masks and good hygiene measures are so important.

There are many ways Canadians can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. They include:

  • staying home
  • practicing physical (social) distancing
  • wearing non-medical grade or homemade masks in situations where you are unable to consistently remain two metres away from others (e.g. using public transit)
  • washing your hands frequently
  • coughing in your sleeve – if using a tissue, discard and wash hands right away
  • disinfecting high-touch surfaces often
  • avoiding all non-essential travel
  • quarantining (self-isolating) and monitoring for symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty breathing) for 14 days if you have travelled outside of Canada

Before inviting people outside of your household (or social circle or bubble) to travel on your boat, review the regional guidelines for your area on physical distancing, social gatherings (size of group that is permitted to congregate) and marine travel. Also check with the marina(s) you plan to visit for any restrictions. The number of guests you have aboard your boat should be based on these guidelines and the size of your boat.

If you and your guests are willing to follow your regional guidelines and you decide to proceed with your excursion, everyone on board should physically distance from people outside their household or wear a mask or facial covering when this is not possible. If your boat does not have running water, have plenty of hand sanitizer on board for all passengers.

Crossing provincial boundaries by water may not be permitted. Check the specific requirements for your destination and be aware that these requirements are likely to evolve over time.

Canadian airlines are taking measures to provide a safe environment for their passengers and employees. Anyone traveling on a Canadian airline must wear a face mask as mandated by Transport Canada. Always check your carrier’s requirements as these may change.

Other safety measures include:

  • disinfecting cabins with electrostatic sprayers (a safe and effective way to disinfect surfaces in large areas, especially high-touch, hard-to-reach places)
  • doing additional cleaning at airport kiosks
  • implementing pre-boarding screening measures including a health questionnaire
  • making changes to onboard food and beverage services
  • removal of in-flight magazines

At this time, it is recommended that all non-essential travel be postponed. If travel is considered essential, then be sure to:

  • Review travel health notices for your origin and destination.
  • Self-isolate for 14-days upon your return, if your travel is outside of Canada, or in some cases outside of your home province.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms (e.g., cough, fever).
  • Contact your local public health authority if you develop symptoms.

This is a personal decision. In general, arriving passengers should arrange for other transportation, such as taxis or ride-sharing services, which are more likely to have precautionary measures in place. However, should you decide to proceed with the pick-up for someone who does not live in your household or is not part of your social bubble, there are some safety measures you should keep in mind.

Do not enter the airport. Use the designated waiting areas (cellphone lots) and remain in your car until the passenger is outside the terminal. Ask your passenger(s) to sit in the back. If there are too many passengers to allow physical distancing in your vehicle, consider using two vehicles. You should also wear a face mask and disinfect the car afterwards.

All returning international and some domestic passengers must self-isolate for 14 days. Travelers should check the specific requirements for their destination and be aware that these requirements are likely to change and evolve over time ― sometimes on short notice. By picking up a passenger (or passengers), whether they live with you or not, you may also be subject to this 14-day self-isolation, unless you can take the safety measures outlined above.

The requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after domestic travel (by any mode of travel) varies by jurisdiction. Travellers should check the specific requirements for their destination and be aware that these are likely to change and evolve over time ― sometimes on short notice. The current recommendation is to avoid all non-essential travel. If you must travel, consult the restrictions and requirements for both your home province or territory and your destination.

When traveling by air, all passengers will undergo a health check and will not be permitted to board if they:

  • are showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • have been refused boarding in the past 14 days for a medical reason related to COVID-19
  • are subject to a provincial or local public health order

Additional measures require all air (and some rail) passengers to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel. You may wish to consult the carrier’s requirements prior to departure.

Although current data varies by region, early estimates from the World Health Organization estimate that 80 per cent of people who contract COVID-19 will recover without having to go to the hospital. Those who are hospitalized due to more severe illness often need oxygen to help them breathe. In very severe cases, patients experience respiratory failure and need a ventilator. Those with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk of experiencing severe illness, but in other cases there is no way to predict who would require ventilator support.

While we know the symptoms of COVID-19, we don’t yet know the long-term effects it can have on someone. Respiratory infections can affect the lungs long term, but the severity will depend on the extent of the illness, age and other factors.

For most patients with mild to moderate illness, the recovery period is around two weeks. Those who are sick for longer will have a longer recovery period, especially if they require breathing supports like oxygen or a ventilator. Some patients with very severe illness and who require ICU admission will need formal rehabilitation to help them recover.

Most people with mild COVID-19 illness will recover on their own. If you have underlying medical conditions and/or are concerned about your symptoms, call your health care provider. In addition to isolating yourself at home for 14 days to reduce the risk of spread, they may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms, such as:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • drink plenty of liquids
  • use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough

If you develop a fever and cough and have difficulty breathing, immediately contact your health care provider or local health unit for instructions.

Assuming you have no underlying medical conditions, a fever is an indicator that your body needs rest. If your fever is interrupting your ability to rest, you should consider medicating. If your fever remains mild and does not cause significant discomfort, you may choose not to treat it. You should monitor your fever closely because a high fever could, in some cases, be an indicator of pneumonia. If you experience high fever or difficulty breathing, promptly contact your health care provider or local health unit for instructions.

Assuming you are an otherwise healthy person, a low-grade fever is generally harmless and is an indicator the body is fighting an infection. If you are experiencing moderate or high fevers that interrupt your ability to rest, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to manage pain and lower the fever. When a high fever cannot be controlled with acetaminophen or ibuprofen alone, they can be used together until your temperature returns to normal.

Generally speaking, people recovering in hospital who spend large amounts of time on their backs (after surgery, or in intensive care units) are more susceptible to bacterial pneumonia because the position allows fluid to settle in the lungs. This is why great care is taken to rotate and move patients regularly. In the context of COVID-19, the cause of pneumonia is the virus itself — not lying on one’s back. If you are having difficulty breathing unless you are in a seated position, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

If at any point you become concerned about your symptoms, you should contact your physician or local health authority — preferably by phone. If you develop difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

If you have a fever, aches and pains and/or chest congestion you should postpone your exercise regime. Those symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest.

If you’ve had a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 you should speak to your health care provider. What we can say is most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own within one to two weeks. As with any illness that includes fever or chest congestion, the key is to rest and give your body the time to recover. Because you may remain contagious for some time, it is extremely important to follow public health guidelines on self-isolation and whether you need testing or not. If you have been hospitalized for your illness, please follow the directives given to you upon your discharge.

Yes. On July 28, 2020, Health Canada approved (with conditions) the drug remdesivir for the treatment of patients (aged 12 years and older) with severe symptoms of COVID-19 who have pneumonia and require extra oxygen to help them breathe.

Remdesivir is the first drug authorized in Canada for the treatment of COVID-19. It is administered by IV and is only to be used in health care facilities where patients can be closely monitored.

Many other drugs are being investigated in clinical trials in Canada for potential use against COVID-19. They include:

  • antiviral drugs
  • vaccines
  • monoclonal antibodies and other drugs that address inflammation
  • convalescent plasma collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19
  • medical gases

It’s important to understand that antivirals and vaccines are not the same.

Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used for treating viral infections (e.g., seasonal influenzas).

Antivirals work by reducing the ability of the virus to reproduce but do not provide immunity against the virus.

On July 28, 2020, the antiviral drug remdesivir was approved by Health Canada (with conditions) for the treatment of patients (aged 12 years and older) with severe symptoms of COVID-19 who have pneumonia and require extra oxygen to help them breathe. It is administered by IV in health care facilities where patients can be closely monitored.

Vaccines are a safe and effective means to protect people against harmful diseases before they encounter them. They use your body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and strengthen your immune system. Vaccines work by training your immune system to create antibodies like it would if you were exposed to a disease. Although most vaccines are given by injection, some are given orally or can be sprayed into the nose.

Currently, there is no vaccine against the virus responsible for COVID-19. Researchers around the world are trying to develop such a vaccine, and the World Health Organization is supporting their efforts. Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under development and being tested through clinical trials. Canadian researchers are playing an important role in this effort.

Reports emerge on a near daily basis of treatments that seem to have been effective in one or a few patients, but no vaccine has yet been approved to prevent or treat COVID-19. Some products have been authorized in Canada to treat COVID-19 and its symptoms. For a list of drugs that have been authorized in Canada for the treatment of COVID-19 click here.

Clinical trials are underway to investigate certain promising vaccines (for prevention) and other possible drug therapies (for treatment). Some interventions are already being used based on anecdotal evidence, or as part of formal clinical research trials. More information on products currently in development can be found here.

Health care providers are doing their best to stay on top of the latest evidence to treat people who have been diagnosed and help them relieve their symptoms.

Yes. On July 28, 2020, Health Canada approved (with conditions) the drug remdesivir for the treatment of patients (aged 12 years and older) with severe symptoms of COVID-19 who have pneumonia and require extra oxygen to help them breathe.

Remdesivir is the first drug authorized in Canada for the treatment of COVID-19. It is administered by IV and is only to be used in health care facilities where patients can be closely monitored.

Many other drugs are being investigated in clinical trials in Canada for potential use against COVID-19. They include:

  • antiviral drugs
  • vaccines
  • monoclonal antibodies and other drugs that address inflammation
  • convalescent plasma collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19
  • medical gases

More information on drugs that have been authorized in Canada for the treatment of COVID-19 and its symptoms can be found here. Information on products currently in development can be found here.

After several months of physical distancing, it’s normal to want to hug a loved one. Unfortunately, experts don’t know an exact date or timeline for when it will be safe to ease physical distancing measures across the country.

Physical contact (such as hugging) with people outside of your household or social “bubble” may put you or others at risk for transmission of the virus.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Canadians have been asked to practice physical (social) distancing.
  • It appears that older people may be more likely to develop serious illness than others.
  • Provinces and territories are at different stages of reopening, so you must review your local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with people outside your household. If you wish to visit with friends or family from other regions, you should also review the guidance of the local public health authority where they live.

These are difficult times, and decisions like these must take into consideration several different factors. The decisions you make affect your health and the health of others.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Canadians have been asked to practice physical (social) distancing.
  • It appears that older people may be more likely to develop serious illness than others.
  • Socializing outdoors is preferred to indoors.
  • Local and provincial/territorial health authority’s guidance on interacting with people outside your household. You should also review the guidance of the local public health authority where your family lives.

As part of your decision-making process, you should know who your family members have come into contact with over the past few weeks. Are they frontline health care workers, or are they in contact with frontline health care workers? Do they need to go out daily to work? Their exposure could put you at greater risk if you spend time together in one of your homes.

One of the most important things Canadians can do to prepare for a second wave is to remain vigilant. Now is not the time to let our guard down. To date, we have done a good job following public health measures (e.g. maintaining physical (social) distancing, avoiding non-essential travel, practicing good hygiene etc.) to help flatten the curve. Continuing to do these things remains very important. By being vigilant, we help protect the health and safety of our loved ones, our frontline health care workers as well as vulnerable populations.

Before planning a picnic with individuals outside your household, check your local regulations for group gatherings. Once you have confirmed what is allowed, you can proceed with the picnic in an area where there is enough space to respect physical distancing requirements.

You could consider having each household bring their own food to avoid potential transmission of the virus. If this is not possible, take the same precautions as you would when getting takeout or delivery. Ensure each person has their own dishes, utensils and individual sealed food portions. If the picnic is in an area without washrooms or running water, bring disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. You can then wipe down tables (if local regulations allow their use) and food containers and keep your hands clean by sanitizing frequently.

Employers and employees must work together to protect the health and safety of employees and customers. As part of this, everyone must understand and comply with the company’s policies on infection control.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice good hygiene (e.g., keep your hands clean, avoid touching your nose and mouth, cough and sneeze into your sleeve).
  • Keep your workspace/environment clean (disinfect your desk/work surface, phones, keyboard etc.).
  • Use personal protective equipment, as directed by your company.
  • Maintain physical distance from co-workers and customers; setting up workstations with distance between them.

Reduce in-person meetings and continue to use online and virtual resources when possible.

Timing for reopening non-essential businesses varies based on regional and provincial/territorial public health recommendations. As these businesses reopen, likely under a phased approach, there are safety measures in place for them to meet public health guidelines (limited capacity, increased cleaning and disinfecting, etc.). These measures are likely be in place for the foreseeable future.

The government and public health authorities are closely monitoring the number of people being infected by the virus, along with how many individuals each infected person subsequently infects. More importantly, they’re monitoring whether these numbers are increasing or decreasing on a consistent basis.

Each province/territory is at a different stage and is dealing with different rates of infection and recovery. As the pandemic evolves, you should review guidance from your local and provincial/territorial health authority to better understand the status in your area.

Unfortunately, we don’t know. COVID-19 is a serious health threat and the situation is evolving daily both in Canada and abroad. We also don’t know whether there will be further “waves” of infection in the months to come. To make sure you’re following the protocols in your region, please refer to your provincial and territorial authorities.

While there are some consistent physical distancing rules across the country, the number of people who can gather at one time varies from province to province. It’s important to follow your local government and health authority’s guidance and continue to practice physical (social) distancing — maintaining a two-metre distance from others regardless of the number of people gathered together.

Since the onset of COVID-19, many patients have had to forego in-person visits with their physician — despite the fact they may require care. Many physicians are providing "virtual visits" through video, phone or text messaging. With some restrictions lifting, you may now also have the option of seeing your health care provider in person. Contact your doctor’s office to discuss your health concerns and determine the best option for your care.

Virtual care generally consists of medical appointments with your health care provider through video, phone or text. These appointments are used to assess and treat many basic medical concerns. Similar to in-person visits, “virtual visits” require you to book an appointment, complete consent forms and gather required items such as a photo ID, list of symptoms and health data. Before the appointment, you’ll need to:

  • prepare your communication device, ensure its fully charged and has a strong and secure Internet connection
  • find a private location for your appointment

If video is not an option, ask if you can connect by phone.

Recently ― in collaboration with patients and their families ― the Canadian Medical Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada created a guide to help patients prepare for virtual visits. We recommend you read the entire guide to help ensure the best outcome from your virtual visit.

If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, call 911.

For other symptoms, please call ahead before seeking in-person medical assistance from your physician or clinic. The office may suggest seeing your health care provider in person or booking a virtual visit. While many medical problems can be assessed and treated via virtual care, some cannot be safely managed without an in-person physical examination.

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