Protecting yourself and others from respiratory illness

Revisit infection prevention measures to stay healthy

During respiratory illness season, we all need to do our part to protect ourselves and others from getting sick. This means revisiting infection prevention measures that we know can help keep ourselves and those around us healthy. You can use multiple layers of protection to stay healthy such as:

  • Get your fall flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wear a tight-fitting, well-constructed mask when sick or if you have been exposed to illness.
  • Consider your risk for when to wear a mask in indoor public settings that are crowded, confined or with poor ventilation.
  • When getting together with others, gather outdoors if possible or in well-ventilated indoor spaces (i.e., open windows, HEPA filters, etc.)
  • Monitor daily for signs of illness.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Use rapid tests or get a PCR test and/or antiviral treatments if eligible (see below)
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, by using a tissue or the inside of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Regularly clean high touch surfaces

Check out Public Health Ontario’s How to Protect Yourself and Others from Respiratory Viruses fact sheet for more information about layers of protection.

What to do if you have symptoms of illness or have tested positive for COVID-19

Take the online Self-assessment for yourself or on behalf of someone else. At the end of the Self-assessment, you will find instructions based on your answers. Be sure to scroll down the page to read all the guidance for what to do.

Or visit COVID-19 Health Guidance to find information on what to do.

If you work in or visit a long-term care home take the long-term care home screener (PDF) before you go.

Getting tested or treated for COVID-19

If you have COVID-19 symptoms and are at a higher risk of severe illness, you should get tested for COVID-19 and seek care as soon as possible as you may benefit from available COVID‑19 treatments. Find COVID-19 testing locations and clinical assessment centres here.

Free Rapid Tests

The distribution of free rapid antigen tests to the public is being discontinued by the Ontario government. However, we recommend checking with your pharmacy to see if they still have stock available. You can also drop in during business hours to pick up free rapid tests at Public Health offices in Guelph, Fergus and Orangeville from reception. Businesses, workplaces and community partners can call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006 to request multiple rapid test kits.

PCR Testing

You are eligible for PCR or rapid molecular testing if you have COVID-‑19 symptoms and belong to a high-risk group or other eligible group. Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 Testing and Treatment page for a list of eligible groups and to find a testing location.

Check the COVID-19 Test Results Portal if you presented a green health card at the time of testing to get your results.

Antiviral Treatments

Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 can prevent serious illness if taken quickly after symptoms start (within the first few days). They are available in Ontario for free to anyone with a prescription.

Take the COVID-19 antiviral treatment screener to determine if you are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and may benefit from antiviral treatments.

More information