COVID-19 information and resources: reducing your risk for infection and spreading the virus

Backgrounder

September 2020

Canadians can access comprehensive information and resources on COVID-19 on the Government of Canada coronavirus disease website Canada.ca/coronavirus, including updates on the current situation, self-assessment and mental and physical health resources. The website also provides guidance on limiting the spread of the virus to others in community, business and medical professional settings.

Immediate mental health and substance use supports are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Canadians of all ages and at no cost, at the Wellness Together Canada online portal.

Additional information on the epidemiology of COVID-19 for public health professionals is available in the daily COVID-19 in Canada epidemiology update.

As always, I urge all Canadians to continue with our collective efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Living with COVID-19 means remaining aware of the risks for exposure in your area and making informed decisions based on the latest advice, including recommendations of public health authorities in your jurisdiction and local area.

Take appropriate precautions and limit the time you spend in settings and situations that have not implemented measures, protocols and policies to reduce the risk of exposure.

During the fall and winter, Canadians will need to be even more vigilant about following public health guidance, particularly as the cold weather shifts our activities indoors. In addition, as it is safest to keep to our existing close contacts bubble, indoor gatherings with extended family and friends, may not be right for every Canadian or every family. 

Before you decide to attend an event or activity, ask yourself the questions in the below “Quick Checks” table to consider your risk, based on (A) your personal/close contacts’ risk factors and (B) risk factors posed by the setting/activity. Then, consider layering up with (C) things you can do to reduce your risk of infection and unintentionally spreading the virus.

Before Going Out: Quick Checks on COVID-19 Risks to Consider
A. PERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD/CONTACT
RISK FACTORS CONSIDERATIONS
B. SETTINGS/ACTIVITY
RISK FACTORS CONSIDERATIONS
  1. Am I at high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 or would having to self-isolate/quarantine seriously disrupt my plans or priorities?
  2. Are there people at high risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 in my household or in-person contacts bubble that I could unintentionally infect?
  1. Has the host made changes to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, e.g. supporting physical distancing and requiring people to wear masks?
  2. Will I be able to make adjustments at the event (e.g. stepping away if it gets crowded, wearing a mask and washing/disinfecting my hands frequently)?

C. Remember, there are things you can do before you go to an event to reduce your risk of getting infected and unintentionally spreading the virus to people you care about:

  • If you have any symptoms, even if mild, stay home, keep away from others and contact your local public health authority to be guided safely to testing and care.
  • Protect yourself and support others at high risk of COVID-19 severe outcomes by being prepared and finding safer ways to connect.
  • Download the COVID-19 Alert App to help break the cycle of infection. While protecting your privacy, the app can alert you of an exposure before any symptoms appear.
  • Use layers of effective public health practices to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus:
    • Maintain physical distancing by keeping 2 metres away from others.
    • Maintain good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
    • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering as recommended in closed spaces, crowded places or close contact situations, including:
      • Indoors, in public spaces
      • Outdoors, where you can't keep a 2-metres distance from others
      • As directed by your local public health/authorities
  • Consider avoiding or strictly limiting your time spent in settings/situations where public health measures are not in place to reduce the risk of infection, including private gatherings, particularly if in:
    • Closed spaces with poor ventilation
    • Crowded places with large numbers of people gathered
    • Close contact where you can't keep 2-metres physical distance from others
  • Limit the number of settings/activities you attend, including private settings and in-person social gatherings to reduce your riskFootnote * of exposure and unintentionally spreading the virus to others.
  • Quality information is crucial for safety and success. There is a lot of misinformation circulating online and on social media so it is important to fact check against trusted and credible sources.

Footnotes

Footnote *

Risks may vary based on your ability to maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others; the use of non-medical masks by you and others; and the measures in place to reduce exposure in the setting you are in. Generally, the risk of exposure will increase with prolonged duration and in closed indoor or crowded settings or close contact situations, particularly if activities involve forceful exhalation (talking loudly/shouting, singing, coughing)

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