Everyone has a role to play to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses (such as COVID-19, RSV and the flu). The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community.
We can layer our protection against respiratory viruses with some simple steps.
These steps work better when used together:
People can use layers of protection at any time as an added measure to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19, RSV, and the flu. Layers of protection are especially recommended when there is a higher risk of getting and spreading respiratory viruses.
Knowing when you are at higher risk of getting sick from a respiratory virus can help you make informed decisions about your health and when to use layers of protection.
Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick or being hospitalized with a respiratory virus, including:
Some settings and situations can put you at higher risk of getting and spreading respiratory viruses, including:
Respiratory viruses are spread by:
Using layers of protection can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses and help keep everyone safe.
Respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and the flu, can spread more easily when people gather indoors together. There are a number of things you can do to improve indoor air quality and help reduce the spread of viruses.
Even when good ventilation and filtration are used, it is still important to have other layers of protection, especially if you or people around you are at risk of getting very sick from a respiratory virus. These include keeping a physical distance when possible, avoiding crowds, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.
Try the CDC’s interactive home ventilation tool to see how respiratory particles in the air change with different ventilation settings in your home.
Respiratory viruses are spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets that can travel up to two metres. Keeping a physical distance from others, where possible, is an extra measure that can be taken to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses, especially for those at greater risk of serious illness.
Here are some ways to practice physical distancing:
Connect with others online, by phone or outdoors.
It is recommended to consider wearing a well-fitting, high quality mask in crowded indoor public settings with poor ventilation, especially if you or people around you are at higher risk of getting very sick from a respiratory virus.
Masking continues to be an important layer of protection to keep you, your loved ones, and the most vulnerable in our community safe. Wearing a mask, in addition to physical distancing, reducing your contacts, getting vaccinated and other public health measures, can reduce the spread of these viruses and is an important measure we can use to protect ourselves and one another.
Masks can be considered in certain settings, including:
Masks may still be expected or required in certain situations or settings, including:
Check with individual organizations to learn more about their specific policies.
A medical mask, respirator or properly fitted 3-layer cloth mask is recommended for anyone who:
Some people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing may remove their mask, or may ask others to remove their mask, because they rely on facial movements and/or lip-reading to communicate. See the below tips for communicating with people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing:
Visit the Government of Canada website for information about mask use.
Learn more about practising good hand hygiene.
Common cleaners, such as soap and bleach, are effective against respiratory viruses. If using alcohol-based cleaners such as hand sanitizer, make sure it is at least 70 per cent alcohol. Always follow the product instructions.
High-touch surfaces may include, but are not limited to:
If surfaces are visibly dirty:
You can choose a product that cleans and disinfects. Read the label to find a product that does both.
Use disinfectant wipes that are appropriate for electronics.
Soft surfaces may include, but are not limited to:
If soft surfaces are dirty:
It is safe to wash laundry from a person who is sick with other items.
Caution: Always check the expiry date, read the label and follow product instructions. Use a product approved in Canada (look for a DIN number). Household bleach may not have a DIN, but is an effective disinfectant. Do not mix chemicals. Wear protective gloves/eyewear and open windows for good ventilation. Never use products on your skin or food, as this can cause serious harm. Store chemicals out of reach from children and pets.
For more information, visit Public Health Ontario: Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.