Respiratory Virus Infection Prevention

Last Reviewed/Updated:  March 21, 2024

COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV are respiratory viruses that commonly circulate in the community. Preventing an infection from these viruses can keep others around you safe and reduce your chances of getting very sick or needing medical care.

Preventing a respiratory infection or transmission of respiratory viruses requires a layered approach.

  1. Stay up-to-date with immunizations. Find out if you are eligible for an immunization and where to receive one here.
  2. Review the COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index weekly for updated guidance based on community risk levels.
  3. Practice proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  4. Stay home if you are feeling unwell
  5. Gather outdoors whenever possible. If gathering indoors, ensure it is a well ventilated space. Learn more about social gatherings.

Symptoms of a respiratory infection can vary from person to person. They may also vary in different age groups. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain.

If you feel unwell, stay home.

If symptoms feel unmanageable but are not urgent, seek medical attention. For those who do not have a primary care provider, there are a few options for unattached patients in the Peterborough area.

If you think you have been exposed COVID-19, review the province's guide for exposure.

Rapid Antigen Testing

Obtaining a testing kit:

The Ministry run program providing free rapid antigen tests (RAT) ended on June 30, 2023. Community members will still be able to receive free RATs from Peterborough Public Health while supplies last. Information on RAT pick up is below:

  • Location: 185 King Street, Peterborough at the Client Services desk on the 3rd Floor
  • Hours: Monday- Friday 8:30am-4:30pm
  • If you have questions or would like to verify supply before coming, please call 705-743-1000, ext. 167

When to use a RAT:
Rapid antigen tests can be used for:

  • screening purposes
  • testing if asymptomatic
  • testing if symptomatic

Learn more about the uses for rapid antigen tests.

How to use a RAT:
The Ontario Science Table recommends the following sampling method to obtain a more reliable sample for a rapid antigen test. Individuals can collect these samples by initially swabbing both cheeks, followed by the back of the tongue or throat, and then both nostrils.

For more instruction, watch the adult or children’s instructions or view this resource.

Recording test results:
Record your Rapid Antigen Test results

Peterborough Public Health is asking all residents to record their rapid antigen test results in this voluntary and confidential survey. In the event that testing and contact tracing capacity cannot keep up with cases, PPH will be using these survey results as a surveillance tool.

PCR Testing

PCR testing is available for eligible individuals across the region. To locate a testing centre nearest you, please visit COVID-19 testing locations ( Learn more about eligibility at COVID-19 testing and treatment (

Family Health Care Providers:

  • For individuals with a family care provider, PCR testing should be obtained by booking an appointment with them first.
  • You may also contact Health Connect Ontario –a free, confidential service that is available by calling 811 or visiting the website. This service provides 24/7 access to non-urgent health advice and information.
  • Individuals without a primary care provider can visit PRHC- Do you need a family doctor? to review clinic information for unattached patients.

Antiviral treatments are available for eligible residents to help prevent serious illness from a COVID-19 infection. Use the provincial resource to learn more about the antiviral treatments available and how you can access them.

Think you need treatment for COVID-19? Take the Ontario anti-viral treatment screener.

A full list of pharmacies prescribing and dispensing Paxlovid can be found here.

Use these five quick tips for safe social or family gatherings:

  1. Check local and provincial guidance
  2. Get vaccinated (including booster doses when you are eligible)
  3. Monitor for symptoms, and do not go out if feeling unwell
  4. Go outdoors
  5. Plan safer indoor gatherings by adding in protection measures like masking, distancing, and enhance cleaning.

Gatherings have the potential to increase the risk of respiratory virus transmission, including when:

  • there are large gatherings, or public events
  • travelling domestically or internationally
  • close contact occurs in indoor settings or in poorly-ventilated areas

If you choose to host an in-person gathering:

  • Use outdoor spaces when possible.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces like door handles.
  • Ask guests not to attend if they do not feel well, and screen for symptoms before the gathering.
  • Track guests attending in case you need to notify anyone of an exposure.
  • Remind everyone of all public health guidance to follow during the event.

If you choose to serve food or drinks, you should:

  • Wash your hands before and frequently during preparation and serving; and
  • Have everyone wash their hands before and after eating.

If you choose to attend an in-person gathering:

  • Do not attend if you have any symptoms, even if they are mild. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly throughout the event.
  • Consider participating virtually or not attending the event if you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease.