Public Health Agency of Canada releases interim guidance for infection prevention and control of COVID-19 for long-term care homes

News release

April 13, 2020              Ottawa, ON                 Public Health Agency of Canada

All Canadians have a role to play in helping to protect seniors and medically vulnerable people, who are at greatest risk of severe health complications from COVID-19. Unfortunately, many long-term care homes in Canada have been experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 and, sadly, numerous deaths.

This weekend, the Public Health Agency of Canada released evidence-informed guidelines to help residents, seniors and health care workers in long-term care homes remain safe and healthy. The Infection Prevention and Control for COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Long-Term Care Homes provides recommendations that complement provincial and territorial public health efforts to prevent and control health care-associated infections. Recommendations include: 

  • Restricting visitors and volunteers to only those essential for basic personal, medical or compassionate resident care.
  • Screenings for COVID-19 before every staff shift or essential visitor entry, and daily for residents. Workers should not go to work if they are ill.
  • Requiring staff, essential volunteers and visitors to wear a mask throughout their shift or visit.
  • Providing training on infection control measures such as proper hand hygiene and use of PPE. 
  • Practising physical distancing (keeping a minimum distance of 2 metres between residents) to the greatest extent possible, including during group activities and meal times. All non-essential outings should be cancelled.
  • Routine additional cleaning, especially for high-touch, high-risk surfaces.
  • Identifying staff who work in more than one location, and making efforts to prevent this where possible.

These guidelines may be adapted to other settings such as retirement homes and residential homes for those with developmental disabilities.

We understand that the efforts of Canadians to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect our most vulnerable involves difficult decisions and personal sacrifices. We all need to do our part to help stop the spread of the virus among the residents of long-term care homes, as well as the workers who care for them.


“I have seen the heartbreaking stories of outbreaks in long-term care homes. We know seniors and people with pre-existing medical conditions are currently more vulnerable. This is why the Public Health Agency of Canada released recommendations that will better protect residents, seniors and health care workers in long-term care homes and ensure they remain safe and healthy.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Health

“Seniors are more at risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19 because of their age and underlying medical conditions. For seniors living together in facilities, there is an even greater risk of infection and transmission due to proximity. Providing consistent guidance for long-term care homes across the country will save lives by protecting seniors and those dedicated to caring for them.”

The Honourable Deb Schulte

Minister of Seniors

“Many of the deaths across Canada are linked to long-term care facilities and these devastating events have underscored the need for stringent infection prevention and control measures. This guidance was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prevent COVID-19 transmission and infections among residents, health care workers and other essential staff in long-term care facilities.” 

Dr. Theresa Tam

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Quick facts

  • Seniors and people with pre-existing medical conditions are at risk for more severe disease and have higher mortality when infected with COVID-19.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada develops evidence-informed infection prevention and control guidance to complement provincial and territorial public health efforts in monitoring, preventing and controlling healthcare-associated infections.
  • This interim guidance is based on previous Canadian guidance developed for the coronavirus pandemic, lessons learned from the COVID-19 outbreak in other countries and in Canada, as well as interim guidance from other Canadian and international bodies.

Associated links


Cole Davidson

Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu

Minister of Health


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Inquiries:



Daniel Pollak
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Seniors

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada

Page details

Date modified: