Last updated: May 20, 2021 at 1:50 p.m.

Tailored health advice for people with specific needs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people may experience emotions and face situations that influence their consumption of alcohol, cannabis or other drugs. Alcohol and cannabis use is associated with some diseases that can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19, and may influence the outcome of a COVID-19 infection.

Learn more about substance use during COVID-19 and what you can do to minimize risks to your health:

Toronto Public Health has also developed harm reduction resources for people who use drugs, including Tips for People Who Use Drugs and Harm Reduction during COVID-19.

If you need support for a substance use issue, visit our Mental Health Resources page to find community-specific resources.

  • There is limited information about breastfeeding as it relates to COVID-19. In other coronavirus infections, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the virus has not been detected in breastmilk.
  • Breastmilk provides protection against many illnesses.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended even if you have COVID-19 as there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted in breast milk.
  • Take all self-isolation precautions and wear a face mask while breastfeeding to avoid spreading the virus to your baby.
  • If you sneeze or cough over your exposed chest/breasts, wash the area with soap and water before breastfeeding or expressing your milk.
  • If you feel too sick to breastfeed or are separated from your baby, you can hand express or pump your milk at least eight times in 24 hours, and once during the night, to maintain your breastmilk supply. The expressed breastmilk may be fed to your baby from a cup, spoon or bottle by someone who is well.
  • If expressing breast milk, wash your hands and put on a face mask before touching any pump or bottle parts. After each use, clean the pump according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Do not use borrowed or second-hand breast pumps unless they are hospital grade rental pumps (follow hospital’s instructions). Some used or second-hand breast pumps have internal parts that are difficult to properly sterilize.
  • If a bottle is used to feed expressed breast milk, ensure that it is properly sterilized.
  • All caregivers must practice good hygiene measures, including hand washing and wearing a face mask, before touching the baby, breast pump, or feeding bottles and equipment.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Learn more about breastfeeding and COVID-19 and breastfeeding.

Also see information about vaccinations while breastfeeding.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Arabic | Amharic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French | Portuguese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

  • Based on current information, infants and children do not appear to be at higher risk for getting COVID-19 than adults.
  • Symptoms and complications of COVID-19 appear to be milder among infants and children compared with adults based on limited reports to date.
  • The best way to protect your baby or child is to take all self-isolation precautions and avoid exposing your baby or child to COVID-19.
  • Ask family members who are not sick and who are within your household to help care for your baby or child when possible.
  • Your child(ren) or anyone else in your household that you have been exposed to must also self-isolate.
  • Watch your child for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If your child develops any COVID-19 symptoms, bring them to an Assessment Center to get tested. Assessment Centres have different age restrictions, check before going.
  • Ensure that everyone in the house is taking precautions to avoid being exposed, including washing their hands frequently and avoiding touching their face.

If you are unable to self-isolate away from your child:

  • Limit the amount of time you are near your baby or child.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before touching your baby or child.
  • Wear a face mask over your nose and mouth whenever you are near your baby or child and try to stay at least six feet away from each other. Children over the age of two should also wear a face mask over their nose and mouth when they are near you.
  • If possible, keep your baby’s sleep surface at least six feet from your face, and have your child sleep in their own room, not in the bed with you.
  • If you share a bathroom with your child, always clean high-touch surfaces (counters, faucets, doorknobs and toilet handles) after each time you use it and close the lid of the toilet before flushing it.
  • Avoid eating with your child, and if possible, have someone else prepare your child’s meals.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces in your home.
  • If you are the only one caring for your child and are too sick to care for them, try to find a friend or family member outside of your home who your child can stay with. They will need to isolate for 14 days. If you require support, please call 211.

Infant feeding:

  • If you are breastfeeding, always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before touching the baby and wear a face mask while breastfeeding.
  • If you have made an informed decision to feed your baby infant formula:
    • Ask someone who is well to feed the baby, if possible
    • Always wash your hands and wear a face mask while preparing formula and feeding the baby.
    • Sterilize bottles and equipment, and wash your hands before handling clean bottles and equipment.
    • Have a two to four week supply of formula.
    • If your baby is under two months of age, use liquid concentrate or ready-to-feed formula.
    • Homemade infant formula is not recommended as it is nutritionally incomplete. Learn about infant formula.

Vaccinations & previous COVID-19 infection

  • People who have had COVID-19 in the past should still get vaccinated. Natural immunity from having COVID-19 may not last long and may not protect against COVID-19 variants. It is better to get the vaccine to stay protected.
  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, should not go to a vaccine clinic. Please wait at least 10 days until you are no longer in self-isolation or your symptoms have gone away.

More information


Download this information as a PDF (also available in Arabic | Amharic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Farsi | French | Portuguese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | TigrinyaUrdu | Vietnamese).

COVID-19 can be more severe in pregnancy, especially as new variants spread. Respiratory infections during pregnancy are a concern as pregnant people are more likely to have serious symptoms and may need to be hospitalized.

  • Protect yourself by practicing physical distancing, avoid being exposed to the virus, and wear a mask or face covering in indoor public spaces and when you can’t keep physical distance. The use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a City of Toronto bylaw.
  • Consider downloading Health Canada’s COVID Alert  app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • Many people who get COVID-19 while pregnant will have mild symptoms.  Some can get very sick and develop respiratory complications that need care in the hospital. Giving birth too early in pregnancy (preterm birth) may be more common in pregnant people with severe COVID-19. New COVID-19 variants can spread more easily and make people sicker.  People who are over 35, obese or have certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, have a higher risk of having complications.
  • Some pregnant people have gone into early labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) due to exposure to the virus.
  • To date, most infants born to individuals who had COVID-19 during pregnancy were born healthy and at term.
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and self-isolate and get tested.
  • It is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine be offered to people planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Working while pregnant

  • People who are pregnant can continue to work. Talk to your employer about the type of work you do, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to protect yourself from being exposed to the virus.
  • It is important for you to wash your hands often, practice physical distancing, wear a face mask indoors and when distancing is difficult, and stay home if you are sick.

Prenatal appointments

  • Ask your health care provider which prenatal appointments can be virtual, and which require an in-person visit.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider prior to any appointments to let them know and to find out if you should get tested.

Preparing for labour and birth

  • A lot is still being learned about COVID-19 during labour and birth.
  • Talk to your health care provider about your birth plan. Due to COVID-19, some procedures may be different than what you expect.
  • You will be screened for COVID-19 when you arrive at your place of birth. If you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, additional precautions will be taken to protect your baby and others around you.
  • Many hospitals and birth centres only allow one support person in the birthing and post-partum areas. Your support person will be screened for COVID-19. If they have COVID-19, or may have it, they will not be able to be with you for the birth.
  • For home births, talk to your midwife about how to make your environment safe.
  • You will have to wear a face mask while getting care, and your support person will have to wear a mask as well.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended even if you have COVID-19 as there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted in breast milk.
  • If giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic worries you, talk to your health care provider.

Learn more about COVID-19 and Pregnancy.

Download this information as a PDF.

Children use play to explore their environment, grow their imagination and discover new opportunities. Playing outside is fun, exciting and important for healthy child development. Here are some strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 while encouraging outdoor play.

When children play outside they:

  • move more, sit less and play longer
  • build muscle strength, coordination and confidence
  • learn better, sleep better and feel better physically and emotionally
  • think creatively and problem solve
  • learn skills that help them cope with stress

Prevent the spread

  • Stay home if you or your child are feeling sick.
  • Teach children to wash their hands often, and to avoid touching their face.
  • Supervise children under the age of 6 when using hand sanitizer. Rub hands until dry.
  • Explain to children why they need to stay six feet apart from people they don’t live with.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors if physical distancing is difficult. Children under age 2 should not wear a mask.
  • Do not have playdates with other families.
  • Do not play in crowded areas.

Stay safe

  • Bring and take home your own toys or sports equipment.
  • Wash toys with hot soapy water when you return home.
  • Clean hands after touching surfaces such as park benches and playgrounds.
  • Teach children how to stay safe around potential dangers, such as streets.
  • Use bike paths and helmets when using tricycles, scooters and bicycles.

Have fun

Download this information as a PDF.

The COVID-19 Resource List for Families provides parenting supports and information for families to meet their mental health, financial, housing and food security needs during the pandemic.

Routine immunization for infants and toddlers is still important during COVID-19. Vaccine preventable diseases are still spreading globally. Waiting to vaccinate can leave children vulnerable to diseases. Vaccines should only be postponed if your child is sick with respiratory symptoms to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19.

Immunization is not just for kids. The vaccines you need may depend on your age, health condition, occupation, travel habits, environment, and lifestyle. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to be vaccinated during COVID19 and how to safely attend a clinic.

Before Your Visit

  • Choose only one parent or guardian to accompany your child’s appointment.
  • Do not attend a clinic if you or your child is sick. Call to reschedule an appointment.
  • Review tips to improve your child’s immunization experience.
  • Bring your child’s immunization card to the appointment or download the CANImmunize app.
  • Talk to your child about the visit so they know what to expect. Your child may feel a poke or pinch for a few seconds.
  • Have your child choose a blanket, stuffed toy or a book for distraction or comfort.

During the Visit

  • Wait in the car until they are ready for your child, if feasible.
  • Sanitize your hands when entering the building.
  • If spending time in the waiting room with others, consider wearing a face mask.
  • Keep six feet distance from others.

After Vaccination

  • After vaccination, stay at the clinic for 15 minutes to monitor for any reactions.
  • Offer praise. Positive reinforcement works for children of all ages.
  • Sanitize your hands when leaving the building.
  • At home, monitor your child for any side effects. For minor reactions such as fever, irritability or a sore arm, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your doctor.
  • If you notice any changes in your child’s health, such as unusual fussing, crying or low energy, call your doctor.

For information about COVID-19 vaccines and their availability in Toronto, please visit our COVID-19 vaccines page.

Staying Safe during COVID-19: A Winter Guide for Seniors

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. The main source of infection is from close contact with someone who has COVID-19. People are contagious before they show symptoms, and so keeping our distance is the most important step to protecting ourselves, our family and our friends.

In general, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear. Refer to COVID-19 information for seniors to learn how you can reduce your risk.

Have questions? Call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.).

Safer everyday activities

  • Stay home as much as possible. Only go out for an essential reason such as groceries, medicine, health care or exercise. Plan ahead and avoid non-essential trips. Continue with online banking, purchases, and curbside pickup, when possible.
  • Connect with family and friends virtually.
  • Stock up on essential supplies such as cleaning products, toiletries or pet food.
  • Reach out if you need help from others.
  • Call 211 for support from community services.
  • Download the COVID Alert app so you can be notified if you come in contact with someone who is contagious with COVID-19.

Wear a mask

Wear a mask when leaving your home, or in shared areas of residential buildings.

  • Your mask should be made of at least two layers of woven fabric.
  • A third filter layer can provide added protection.
  • The best mask is the one that fits comfortably, and is worn properly.
  • Cloth masks can be reused with regular laundering.
  • People at greater risk for severe illness should consider using a three-layer mask or a medical mask, if available.

Stay active

  • Move around the house, do stretches, or watch or stream a fitness classes.
  • When going out, watch the weather forecast and plan ahead.
  • Some winter sports like skiing and ice skating may require you to book an appointment first.
  • Dress in layers, with mittens and hats to keep your body warm.
  • Wear winter boots with good grip to avoid slips and falls.

COVID-19 symptoms and testing

If you have symptoms or have been told that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19:

  • Make an appointment to get tested. Do not use public transit to go to your appointment.
  • If you do not drive, ask a friend for a lift. Sit at the back, wear a mask and open windows.
  • Do not go to a pharmacy for testing if you have symptoms.
  • Stay home, self-isolate while you wait for your test results.
  • Shop online or call a friend to pick up supplies for you.
  • Call your health care provider if you need help managing your symptoms.

If you, or someone you know have chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness or dizziness please take them to the emergency room. If the person is not well enough to drive, call 911.

Vaccines

Health Canada has approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. The vaccine will protect you from getting sick with COVID-19. At this time there is a limited supply of vaccines in Ontario. The provincial government has a three phase plan to distribute vaccines starting with health care workers in hospitals and long-term care homes. As more vaccines arrive, the vaccination program will be expanded. Visit www.toronto.ca/COVID19 to stay informed.

Health care visits

Do not delay visits to your health care provider if you have health concerns. Continue with your prescribed medication and treatment plans. Do not make changes without talking with your health care provider.

  • Ask if they offer telephone or online services.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19:
    • Call ahead before visiting.
    • Do not take public transit. Drive or call a friend.
    • Use a face mask or covering, and keep two metres/six feet from others.
    • Call the office when you arrive, and wait outside or in your car until you are called.
  • Call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 if you have health questions.
  • Arrange to get a flu shot.

Staying connected virtually

  • Limit visits to people you live with. If you live alone, visit with one other household.
  • Pick up the phone and call a family member, neighbour or friend to keep in touch.
  • Use video chats, emails, texting and other virtual platforms to stay connected.
  • When trying new virtual tools and apps, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Use video platforms to schedule group events such as movie nights, coffee chats, book clubs or religious services.
  • Access free virtual and phone-based activities at COVID-19: Stay, Play & Learn at Home. Search by ‘Seniors’ or ‘Older Adults’ to find many types of free virtual activities for seniors.

Keep with routines and healthy habits

  • Open windows for sunlight and air flow.
  • Stay active. If you go out for fresh air and exercise, make sure to keep 6 feet/2 metres distance from anyone you don’t live with. Always wear a mask when it is difficult to keep your distance.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Don’t skip meals.
  • Drink more water, and reduce sugar intake.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
  • When feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help (see resources below).

Reaching out for assistance

Protect from frauds and scams

Do not purchase products with claims to protect you against COVID-19. Do not give out personal information to unsolicited callers. Toronto Public Health staff will never ask for your credit card or social insurance number.

Download this information as a PDF.


Safety Tips and Resources for Seniors and their Caregivers

Download this handy COVID-19 information sheet with safety tips and resources for seniors and their caregivers.

Download the information sheet in Farsi, French, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tamil, Traditional Chinese, Tagalog, and Urdu.

French Resource

How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19: Older Adults & People with Chronic Medical Conditions or Weakened Immune Systems (Comment se protéger contre la COVID-19 : Personnes âgées et personnes ayant des problèmes de santé chroniques ou un système immunitaire affaibli) (Public Health Ontario)

A new City of Toronto bylaw requires people to wear masks or face coverings when inside public spaces. COVID-19 can spread before someone develops symptoms. By wearing a mask or face covering, we can protect each other.

Some people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing cannot wear face coverings because they rely on facial movements and lip-reading to communicate. If you meet someone not wearing a face covering, be understanding. It is not always obvious when someone is deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

Tips for communicating with people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing:

  • Ask the person how they prefer to communicate. Not all deaf people use sign language.
  • You can remove your mask if someone who is deaf or hard of hearing asks you to, but keep a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) or stand behind a plexiglass barrier.
  • Consider using a clear plastic face shield that extends below the chin and wraps around the sides of the face. Ensure they are cleaned and disinfected properly. And remember, they do not replace a mask for people who can still wear a mask.
  • Look at and speak directly to the person, not the ASL interpreter (if using one).
  • Do not over-articulate your words or shout.
  • Speak at a normal pace – not too fast or too slow.
  • Use speech-to-text mobile apps or writing paper.

Resources:

There are limited reports of animals becoming infected with COVID-19. If you are caring for a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic you should:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and practise good respiratory etiquette (e.g. don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and cover your cough or sneeze) when caring for your pet.
  • When outside, keep your pet two metres or six feet from other people and animals.
  • If you are sick, limit your contact with your pet, if possible. Have someone in your household who is not sick look after your pet.
  • If your pet gets sick, contact your veterinarian.

Learn about caring for your pet during COVID-19. Read also Public Health Ontario’s advice for caring for your pet if you have COVID-19 or you or your pet have been exposed to COVID-19.

Toronto Animal Services (TAS) is offering advice and assistance to pet owners who are experiencing hardship and struggling to care and provide necessities for their pets due to COVID-19.

French Resource:

Tips for parents

The COVID-19 pandemic may be challenging to parents who are not living together but are co-parenting their children. Below are some tips to help you work together during this stressful time.

Stick to the court-ordered parenting schedules as much as possible

  • Regular parenting time and custody schedules should be kept, unless someone is self-isolating or under quarantine.
  • If you think the other parent is not taking the necessary health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, consider obtaining legal advice.
  • Do not take advantage of this health crisis to prevent your child from having contact with the other parent.

Maintain structure and routines

  • Stick to regular family schedules and routines – schedule time for exercise, school work, family time, chores and hobbies. Keep regular bedtimes and meal times.

Keep conflict away from children

  • Stay child-focused and work together as a united team to help your child feel safe and reduce their stress and anxiety. Focus on what is best for your child.

Reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19

  • To model good prevention behaviour, ensure that both homes are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as:
    • regular hand washing
    • cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched objects
    • staying home as much as possible
    • practising physical distancing
    • wearing a face mask or covering in indoor and outdoor public spaces
    • getting vaccinated as soon as you can
  • Consider downloading the COVID Alert app so you can be notified directly if you have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
  • When carrying out parenting exchanges, do it where you can keep a safe physical distancing of two metres (or six feet) from the other parent, and wash your child’s toys, clothing and personal belongings each time they return from their other parent.
  • Follow public health guidance if you or your child has COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Parenting exchanges should not take place when a parent or child is self-isolating, and should only resume once the isolation period is over, and the parent or child who was in self-isolation is feeling better, and no longer has a fever.
  • If you are caring for someone with COVID19 or are pregnant or caring for a new baby at home and have COVID-19, ensure that you are taking measures to prevent spreading the virus.

For more legal information or support

Download this information as a PDF.

Also read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s fact sheet for vulnerable populations.

For information in French about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website and Public Health Ontario portal.