Last updated: May 18, 2022 at 2:52 p.m.
COVID-19 continues to circulate in Toronto. Everyone has a role to play to reduce the spread. The actions you take will protect you, loved ones and those most vulnerable in our community.
As we learn to live with COVID-19, we can layer our protection with some simple steps:
COVID-19 is a viral infection that mainly affects the lungs, but it can also cause damage to other organs. Some people can get very sick with COVID-19 and may require hospitalization or get long-lasting symptoms including feeling tired, trouble breathing, trouble concentrating or muscle aches.
Viruses often mutate and change, creating new variants. COVID-19 variants can spread more easily and cause more serious disease.
COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada are safe and effective, including for people with health conditions, weakened immune systems, auto-immune disorders and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Being fully vaccinated, plus a booster when eligible, reduces the risk of getting, spreading and becoming seriously sick from COVID-19 and variants. Everyone is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.
Learn more on how COVID-19 spreads and tips to ensure good ventilation.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, trouble swallowing, sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can appear up to 14 days after having close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Older adults and children may also have symptoms such as chills, headaches, sleeping more than usual, feeling disoriented, confusion, muscle aches, dizziness, weakness, or falls.
Older adults and people with health conditions are at greater risk for serious illness, requiring hospital care. In very rare cases, some children can get an unusual inflammatory condition. Seek medical attention right away if a child’s symptoms are not improving or they get a rash, long lasting fever, pink eyes and/or swelling in the hands and feet.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate and visit COVID-19: What to Do if You Have COVID-19 Symptoms for information on what to do next. Get tested for COVID-19, if eligible.
Self-isolation means staying home and away from others, including people in your household. Do not go outside, to public places, or use public transit. Shop online or call a friend to pick up supplies for you. Call your health care provider if you need help with any symptoms. Call 911 if you or someone else is having difficulty breathing. If you are unable to safely self-isolate in your own home because of lack of space, or because you live with people with underlying health conditions, you may be eligible for support at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.
COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols, most often from close contact with an infected person, such as:
Close contact with a person who has COVID-19 is the most common way that the virus is spread, even if the person has no symptoms.
COVID-19 can also spread from aerosols generated during medical procedures and certain dental procedures. COVID-19 is not known to be spread through ventilation systems or through food or water. Learn more about COVID-19 transmission, aerosols and ventilation.
Transmission from aerosols is more likely when there are a higher number of people indoors, for a longer period of time, with poor airflow or ventilation. With proper airflow or ventilation, smaller virus particles will become diluted and disperse faster, similar to what occurs when you open windows to air out a smoky room. While aerosols may contribute to the spread of COVID-19, infections are still linked to person-to-person transmission through close direct contact with someone who was contagious.
To ensure good air flow:
COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols that are produced when a person who has the virus breathes, speaks, sings, laughs, sneezes or coughs. Respiratory droplets are larger and heavier so they fall to the ground more quickly due to gravity. Aerosols are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets so they can stay in the air longer. Aerosols are also created during certain medical and dental procedures.
COVID-19 spreads more easily through the air in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation. The risk increases the longer a person stays in the space, as well as when people are doing activities that cause heavy breathing, such as singing, dancing or exercising, especially without wearing a mask or keeping physical distance.
Good air ventilation and filtration help to prevent COVID-19 spread by reducing virus particles in the air. Ventilation increases the amount of fresh air that flows into a space. This is similar to opening windows to air out a smoky room. Filtration works by using a filter to remove virus particles from the air. The filtered air is then returned back into the room. Filters must be used and changed according to the product instructions.
Even when good ventilation and filtration is being used, it is still important to wear a mask, keep two metres of physical distance and avoid crowding.
Business operators who have installed physical barriers such as plexiglass must be sure that the barriers do not negatively impact airflow and ventilation. Physical barriers should only be used for businesses that have a high number of short interactions with high-risk contacts, such as at cash registers or checkout counters, and are not suited for settings with poor ventilation.
Wearing a high quality, well-fitted mask protects others from our respiratory droplets and aerosols. This is called source control, and can reduce the spread of germs in the air. Cloth masks should be made of at least three layers of tightly woven fabric (such as cotton or linen), or two layers with a filter layer for extra protection. Consider a medical mask or respirator for even better prevention. Masks should be changed when they get dirty or wet. Learn more about face masks.
HVACs and their filters reduce the amount of virus particles in the air. HVAC filtration can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission indoors when used with other public health measures such as physical distancing and wearing masks. Ensure HVAC systems are in good working condition and regularly inspected. For improved ventilation:
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through the air over long distances or through air ducts.
If possible and safe, open windows and doors in rooms without HVAC systems. If a room does not have ventilation (i.e. no windows or HVAC system), a portable air cleaner can be used. Portable fans, ceiling fans and single unit air conditioners help improve airflow, which is better than no ventilation at all. If a window air conditioner unit or fan is needed, make sure they do not blow directly toward anybody. When using a fan, it is important to put it near an open window or door to help bring outdoor air into the space.
Using portable air cleaners in indoor spaces helps reduce virus particles in the air, especially when everyone is wearing a mask. Make sure that the air cleaner keeps running and does not blow directly at anyone. Proper filters should be used and changed regularly.
Healthcare workers doing procedures that generate aerosols and workers who have close contact with other should always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Download this information as a PDF (also available in French) or visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. Also read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidance on using ventilation and filtration to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 at home.
COVID-19 is 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 COVID-19, especially for those at greater risk of serious illness.
Here are some ways to practice physical distancing:
It is strongly recommended to wear a well-fitting, high quality mask, especially in indoors public settings. Wearing a mask, in addition to physical distancing, reducing your contacts, getting vaccinated and other public health measures, can reduce the spread of COVID-19, and is an important measure we can still use to protect ourselves and one another. Even though masks may not be required, masking continues to be an important part of our community’s response to the pandemic.
It is strongly recommended to wear a mask if you feel it is the right choice for you, based on your level of risk. Masks can be considered:
The provincial government also requires that masks be worn in indoor settings under the Chief Medical Officer of Health Class Order. This includes, but is not limited to:
Masks are still required in all public settings if:
Wear a mask if required by your workplace for personal protective equipment.
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 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.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food or food packaging. Learn more about COVID-19 and food safety.
Most regular household cleaners are effective against COVID-19 and its variants. If surfaces are visibly dirty, first use a cleaner, such as soap and water, then apply a disinfectant to kill the germs and viruses that remain. Leave the disinfecting solution to dry for it to work. You can choose a product that cleans and disinfects. Read the label to find a product that does both. Always follow the product instructions.
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as door handles, countertops, tables, light switches, faucets, sinks, toilets, etc. to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.
Electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, keyboards and remote controls are the most forgotten surfaces. Use disinfectant wipes that are appropriate for electronics. If there is no manufacturer instructions, use 70 per cent alcohol-based wipes.
For soft surfaces such as clothing and drapes, launder according to the label. It is safe to wash laundry from a person who is sick with other items. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate temperature setting. Dry items completely in the dryer, if possible.
Caution: Always read the label and follow product instructions. Use a product approved in Canada (look for a DIN number). 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 of children and pets.
For more information, visit Public Health Ontario: Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings.
You can safely perform CPR during COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the virus by following these hands-only CPR guidelines, which were developed by Toronto Paramedic Services.
Learn about the emergency orders, directives and bylaws.