How to help stop the spread of COVID-19

COVID‑19 is spread mainly from person to person through close contact.

Close contact means:

  • being less than two metres away in the same room, workspace or area for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before symptoms began or a positive test result
  • living in the same home

The best way to stop the spread of COVID‑19 is to:

  • get vaccinated with your first, second or booster dose as soon as possible to help protect against severe outcomes from COVID-19
  • wear a well-fitted mask when required
  • wear a mask at all times when outside your home in public spaces (including schools and child care, unless under two years of age), when:
    • you are recovering from COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19
    • you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19
  • wear a mask if you are at higher risk for severe illness for greater protection (this includes people who are older, people with certain medical conditions and those who are pregnant or have recently given birth, particularly if you have not received all recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine)
  • isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19
  • learn what you should do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19
  • take everyday actions:
    • stay home when sick, even with mild symptoms
    • wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
    • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
    • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
    • open windows to ventilate indoor spaces when possible
    • wear a mask if you feel it is right for you

If you are planning an event or gathering, consider the following:

  • ensure supplies such as hand sanitizer and soap are available
  • wash your hands frequently and thoroughly or use hand sanitizer, especially before preparing, serving and eating food
  • if you are indoors, open windows if possible to improve air flow and ventilation
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • guests should not attend if they feel unwell, even if their symptoms are mild
  • make sure anyone who is required to isolate does not attend
  • consider creating a list of guests so you can notify them if a guest develops symptoms of COVID-19
  • follow any local public health unit requirements for your region

What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive

Symptoms of COVID-19 and its variants range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe. If you feel sick, it’s important that you stay home or talk with a doctor if necessary. Taking a self-assessment can help you determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are required to isolate.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 visit ontario.ca/exposed to find out how to protect yourself and your contacts.

Follow the steps outlined in If you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 and take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread.

If you have symptoms and are at higher risk of severe illness, contact a health professional or visit a clinical assessment centre immediately. You may benefit from available therapies to prevent severe illness.

If you have questions related to COVID-19 testing and isolation guidelines, please call the Provincial Testing and Isolation Information line at 1-888-777-0730.

What to do if you are a close contact

If you are a close contact of someone with symptoms of COVID‑19 or who has tested positive for the virus, visit ontario.ca/exposed to find out how to protect yourself and your contacts. Follow the steps outlined in being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and take the necessary precautions to help stop the spread.

How to care for someone with COVID-19

  • wear a well-fitted mask as much as possible when in the same room
  • increase ventilation in the room, such as by opening a window to increase fresh air
  • wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after each contact with the infected person
  • do not share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with the infected person
  • do not share cigarettes
  • wear a mask and gloves when you have contact with any of the person’s bodily fluids
  • take the gloves and mask off right after you provide care and throw them in a waste basket lined with a plastic bag
    • take off the gloves first and clean your hands with soap and water before taking off your mask

Poster: How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19 (PDF)

Poster: Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts (PDF)