COVID-19 – Prevention

COVID-19 viruses and Influenza viruses are respiratory viruses. Prevention for respiratory viruses are similar. Learn more about influenza prevention at www.ontario.ca/page/flu-facts 

Last Reviewed/Updated:  September 1, 2022

Public Health Ontario has additional resources for the prevention of COVID-19

What is COVID-19
Preventing COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19
Testing for COVID-19
Treatment for COVID-19
Social Gatherings

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that spreads through aerosolized droplets from infected individuals. In general, COVID-19 can spread from person to person by:

  • Breathing in droplets or aerosols from the infected person after they cough, sneeze, laugh, or sing.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus droplets on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing or sanitizing your hands.
  • Personal contact with the infected individual such as shaking hands, hugging, or kissing.

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Preventing COVID-19

Preventing a COVID-19 infection or transmission of COVID-19 requires a layers approach.

  • Receive your COVID-19 vaccines: The most important layer is to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and keep up with any booster doses required. A COVID-19 vaccine will prevent infection but it will also reduce your risk of severe infection and hospitalization if you do come into contact with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Protect yourself around others:
    1. Wearing a tight and proper fitting mask. The type of mask will depend on the level of protection you need or are required to have.
    2. Sanitizing hands when you enter and exit the setting.
    3. Remaining at least 2m physical distance from those that are not from your household. Learn more about physical distancing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell and take a COVID-19 self-assessment

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Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 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. Take the Self Assessment Tool if you have any symptoms or feel you may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19.

If you have COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, use this resource to assist with determining length of isolation period.

The province has a call centre to assist residents who have questions about COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements. This line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, 7 days a week from 8am-6pm.

Testing for COVID-19

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

Rapid Antigen Testing

Obtaining a testing kit:
As of February 9, the province of Ontario is distributing Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) through pharmacies and grocery stores. Review the province of Ontario’s distribution plan. 

Find a location near you and review the individual store distribution plan. 

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.

Understanding test results:

Review the province of Ontario guidance for directions in understanding next steps after using a RAT.

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.

Residents will only be contacted if they test positive and wish to be contacted by Peterborough Public Health for follow up.

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Treatment for COVID-19

Peterborough Regional Health Centre is responsible for COVID-19 symptom assessment, PCR testing and treatment in the Peterborough region. Learn more about their services here.

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

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Social Gatherings and Events

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 COVID-19 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.

Checklist: Reducing the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission:

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