Coronavirus (COVID-19): protect yourself and others
How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Steps you can take to stay safe, help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect your community.
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Vaccines reduce the likelihood of severe illness. When you get vaccinated, you also reduce the risk of passing on COVID-19 to your community. You can book an appointment for yourself or someone else (like a parent, grandparent or child).
Watch for symptoms
Watch for COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms can vary from person to person and in different age groups. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should stay home and book a COVID-19 test.
Stay home if you feel sick
If you feel sick, stay home and watch for COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate (if you can) and book a COVID-19 test. By getting tested, you help keep your community safe.
Wear a mask
Wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. A mask helps stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes (including someone who has COVID-19 but has no obvious symptoms).
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, Public Health recommends that you wear a mask if you can't self-isolate.
Learn more: COVID-19 mask use
Protect people at higher risk
Some people, like those who are older or immunocompromised, are at higher risk of severe disease. If you’re around vulnerable people (or if you’re at higher risk) you should maintain healthy habits like gathering safely, wearing a mask and COVID-19 rapid testing.
Learn more: COVID-19 rapid tests
To help protect yourself and others:
- don’t host or participate in activities if you feel sick, have any COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating
- keep your close social contacts consistent, as much as possible
- make informed choices about who to interact with and how to interact with each other (consider age, occupation and health conditions)
- don’t share food or beverages
- gather outdoors when possible or in indoor spaces with good ventilation
Visiting and travelling
If you're travelling or visiting others, make sure to:
- be aware of travel restrictions and self-isolation requirements when travelling
- be aware of vaccination requirements when travelling
- avoid travel if you are not fully vaccinated
- don’t go visiting if you feel unwell, have any COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating
- don’t invite guests to visit who are feeling unwell, have any COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating
- don’t travel if you feel unwell, have any COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating
Maintain healthy habits
Maintaining good hygiene helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes washing your hands often, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, and cleaning surfaces.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then dry your hands completely. Use hand sanitizer when you can’t use soap and water.
It’s important to wash your hands:
- after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- after visiting a public place or touching surfaces outside of your home
- before and after preparing or eating food
- after handling waste, touching dirty laundry or using the bathroom
- when your hands look dirty or feel dirty
If soap and water are not available, and your hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Use enough to cover the fronts and backs of both hands and between all your fingers. Rub your hands together until they feel dry.
Cough and sneeze etiquette
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the used tissue in the garbage and wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately.
If you don’t have a tissue, cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you need to touch your face, wash your hands first. Washing your hands will help keep the virus off your hands so you don’t spread it to other people.
Clean and disinfect regularly
Viruses can live on surfaces for several days. You can reduce the number of germs and reduce your risk of infection by cleaning and disinfecting every day.
You should clean the surfaces and objects you touch most frequently at least once a day, or more if needed.
Clean and disinfect things like doorknobs, light switches, railings, toilets and tabletops every day. Wash with soapy water first. Then disinfect with household cleaning products, following the directions on the label.
If household cleaning products are not available, you can make a diluted bleach solution following the instructions on the bleach label. Or you can make a solution with 5 mL of bleach per 250 mL of water, or 20 mL per litre.
You need to mix a fresh batch of the bleach mixture every day for it to work properly.
Disinfect phones, remote controls, computers and other handheld devices with 70% alcohol or wipes.
Keep your workplace safe
Employers and employees need to work together to maintain a healthy workplace. Occupational health and safety practices (like plexiglass dividers and increased cleaning) help prevent COVID-19 and lessen the risk of many respiratory and other illnesses. You should also watch for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if you feel sick.