COVID-19 Antibody testing now available
Frequently Asked Questions
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.
Quarantine for 14 days if you have no symptoms and any of the following apply:
- you are returning from travel outside of Canada (mandatory quarantine)
- you had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19
- you have been told by the public health authority that you may have been exposed and need to quarantine
You must isolate if any of the following apply:
- you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19
- you have symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild
- you have been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19
- you have been told by public health that you may have been exposed to COVID-19
- you have returned from travel outside Canada with symptoms of COVID-19 (mandatory)
Canadians should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Measures to reduce COVID-19 in your community are especially important as some areas begin to lift restrictions.
As we continue to see transmission of the virus within different communities, we know that everyone must take precautions, even those who have not travelled outside of Canada.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, all Canadians are advised to:
- stay at home unless you have to go to work
- talk to your employer about working at home if possible
- avoid all non-essential trips in your community
- do not gather in groups
- limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health
- go outside to exercise but stay close to home
- if you leave your home, always keep a safe distance from others
- household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick or have travelled in the last 14 days
You can go for a walk if you:
- have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
- do not have symptoms of COVID-19
- have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days
- are not in quarantine (self-isolating)
- are not isolating
If you go out for a walk, do not congregate and always practise physical (social) distancing by keeping at least 2 metres apart from others at all times.
Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Physical (social) distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.
This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:
- avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
- avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
- limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
- keeping a safe distance from others
Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product when used according to the label directions. Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19.
Although they do not claim to kill COVID-19, cleaners can play a role in limiting the transfer of microorganisms. Health Canada recommends cleaning high-touch hard surfaces often, using either regular household cleaners or diluted bleach according to the label directions. This bleach solution should be prepared according to the instructions on the label or in a ratio of 250 mL (1 cup) of water per 5 mL (1 teaspoon) of bleach. Directions are based on bleach that is 5% sodium hypochlorite, to give a 0.1% sodium hypochlorite solution. Never mix bleach with other chemical products and use it in a well-ventilated area. Special precautions must be used when cleaning with bleach to avoid serious incidents.
These surfaces include:
- door handles
- bedside tables
- television remotes
Refer to the guidance on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces for more information.
Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering while out in public is recommended for periods of time when it is not possible to consistently maintain a safe distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings, such as:
- shopping areas
- public transportation
Public health officials will make recommendations based on a number of factors, including the rates of infection and/or transmission in the community. Recommendations may vary from location to location.
If you do choose to wear one, refer to the:
- guidelines on wearing non-medical masks and how to make your own
- COVID-19 Special Advisory Committee‘s recommendations on the use of non-medical cloth masks or face coverings in community settings
Masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must consistently and strictly adhere to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical (social) distancing.