print header



Protect Yourself and Others

COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities. You can protect yourself and others, especially those who are at most risk of severe illness, by using multiple layers of protection to reduce the risk of becoming sick and spreading the virus. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 get tested, which may include accessing a rapid antigen test kit free from health unit offices, and/or treated if you are eligible.

Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations is the best way to prevent serious illness.

Click here for information about where and how to get your COVID-19 vaccinations.

If you feel sick with symptoms of COVID-19 , assume you have the virus and follow the actions outlined below. Symptoms of COVID-19 and its variants range from mild to severe and are similar to the common cold and seasonal flu.

Inform your contacts:

To help prevent the virus from spreading tell your household members and close contacts that you are sick so they can self-monitor and take extra precautions recommended for people who may have been exposed. A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, and without measures such as masking, distancing, and/or the use of personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your symptoms began or your positive test result, whichever came first.

Stay home:

If you have symptoms stay home and self-isolate to prevent spreading the illness to others and until ALL of the following apply to you:

  • your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea)
  • you do not have a fever
  • you do not develop any additional symptoms.


After staying home:

After your symptoms have improved and you are no longer staying home, you may still be able to spread the virus. To prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, take extra precautions for 10 days after your symptoms started:

  • wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
  • avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, dining out)
  • avoid non-essential visits to anyone who is immunocompromised or may be at higher risk of illness (for example, seniors)
  • avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings in the community such as hospitals and long-term care homes.


Information for people who are immunocompromised

If you are immunocompromised and have symptoms or test positive, stay home for 10 days after your symptoms started/or positive test result, whichever comes first, until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea), and there’s no fever. If you are immunocompromised and have symptoms but test negative, you can stop isolating at home and follow the above recommendations for ‘after staying home’.

Taking additional precautions can add another layer of prevention against the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses circulating in the community. Take the following additional precautions if you tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms or you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 but have no symptoms.

For 10 days after the last day of exposure, or positive test result (with no symptoms):

  • self-monitor for new or worsening symptoms
  • seek testing (if eligible) or self-test using a rapid antigen test free from the health unit if you develop any new or different symptoms
  • you are temporarily removing it for essential activities (such as when eating in shared space at school/work) while still maintaining as much distancing from others as possible
  • you are unable to mask (such as children under two years of age)
  • avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, playing a wind instrument, sports that require removing your mask, dining out)
  • avoid visiting anyone who is immunocompromised or may be at higher risk of illness (for example, seniors)
  • avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings, such as hospitals and long-term care homes.

Make sure you know if you are eligible for COVID treatments and how to get tested and access treatment if you are eligible.


There are two main publicly funded tests available in Ontario to those who are eligible: rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits are now available to the public for free from the health unit. Test kits can be picked up at all health unit offices (excluding the 80 Bradford St. clinic in Barrie) during regular business hours while supplies last.

Although anyone can access a RAT kit, they are especially recommended for individuals who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, such as those over age 60 and those who have medical conditions or are immuno-compromised. This is because there is an effective oral anti-viral medication against COVID-19 for those higher risk groups. To find out in advance or when you fall ill if you would be eligible and recommended for this treatment if you test positive for COVID-19, go to the provincial anti-viral screener.

Office locations can be found here. Click here for locations to get a publicly-funded PCR test.

Antiviral treatments

Antiviral treatments are available for people with symptoms and a positive test result (PCR or rapid antigen test) who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19. These treatments must be taken immediately within the first five to seven days (depending on the treatment) of symptom onset. To find out in advance or when you fall ill if you would be eligible and recommended for this treatment if you test positive for COVID-19, go to the provincial anti-viral screener.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow up with a healthcare provider. 


Wearing a tight-fitting, well-constructed mask can be considered in indoor public settings, especially if you are at higher risk of severe infection. Wearing a mask can also be considered at home and in other private settings if you have any respiratory symptoms and have at-risk people in your household, including children under five years of age, older adults, or those with medical conditions.


Showing kindness to those that continue to protect themselves by wearing a mask is strongly encouraged as a way to show respect for each other’s personal choices and private health decisions. To learn about face coverings or masks and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19, visit

Wearing a mask is required:

Wearing a mask is recommended:

  • After having COVID-19 symptoms, testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19 for 10 days and in all public places (including school and child care) unless you need to temporarily remove it (maintain physical distance when the mask is removed) or if you are unable to wear a mask (such as children under two years of age). Avoid non-essential activities where you need to remove your mask.
  • In other settings where individuals are at high risk for severe illness like congregate settings such as group homes and shelters.
  • For people at risk for severe illness to provide additional protection.
  • When a business or organization has developed their own masking policy.

Wash your hands often using proper hand hygiene. Washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds will help keep COVID-19 and other viruses from spreading. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 70% alcohol.

Disinfect high touch surfaces in your home often, such as doorknobs, tv remotes, and water taps.

Limit your number of social contacts, especially when indoors if the space will be crowded or people will be in close contact (less than 2 metres apart) and without a mask.

When you can, spend time outside where there is a lower risk of viruses spreading compared to indoor environments.

It is important to know your risk of getting severe illness from COVID-19, as well as the risks of people you live with and spend time with. Knowing when you and/or others have increased risk of severe illness will help you decide what added layers of protection are needed to protect yourself and others.

It is recommended that people who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 AND members of their household take extra precautions and add additional layers of protection as situational risks increase.

If you have increased risk of severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are eligible for antiviral treatment if you do get COVID-19.

Risk factors that increase the chance of becoming seriously ill if infected with COVID-19 include:

  • being unvaccinated against COVID-19. One of the best ways to protect yourself from getting serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and stay up to date with recommended vaccinations.
  • 60 years of age and older
  • immunocompromised or are taking immunosuppressant medications
  • pregnant or recently gave birth
  • obesity (BMI of 30 or more)
  • diabetes
  • heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure
  • chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis
  • cerebral palsy
  • developmental disability or intellectual disability (e.g., down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease (for example, Child Pugh Class B or C cirrhosis).

Each situation you are in has different risks of COVID-19 spreading. Increase the layers of protection you use when planning to be in situations that increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Situations with more risk of COVID-19 spreading include those where:

  • People you are interacting with are unvaccinated or not up to date with all recommended vaccinations.
  • People you are interacting with are more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
  • The space will be crowded or people will be in close contact (less than 2 metres apart).
  • You will be in close physical contact with people for more than 15 minutes.
  • The activity is inside and the windows and doors are closed.
  • None or few of the people in the space wear a mask.

There are also recommendations and requirements for businesses and employers to help create safer places for workers, customers and the public.

Other COVID-19 Information and Resources

Long COVID or Post COVID-19 Syndrome describes a range of symptoms which can persist for weeks to months after severe, mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. The many symptoms associated with Long COVID are varied and affect people in different ways. They may remit and relapse. Most common symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • memory problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches
  • general pain and discomfort
  • difficulty thinking and concentrating

Prevention of Long COVID

The best way to prevent Long COVID is to prevent infection from COVID-19 through vaccination and by using many layers of protection like wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand washing. Vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of developing Long COVID, as research has shown it is protective even if you develop COVID-19 infection. 

Treatment of Long COVID

Seek assessment with your health care provider if you have post COVID-19 symptoms


Page last updated: July 20, 2023

Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...