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Steps for limiting the spread of respiratory infectious diseases

Viruses and respiratory infectious diseases are spreading widely. You can take certain steps to prevent transmission.

Monitor your symptoms

Monitor your health and the onset of symptoms of respiratory infectious diseases.

If you have symptoms, follow these instructions to take care of yourself and others:

  • If you have a fever, stay home.
  • If you have a new or worsened cough, sore throat or nasal congestion, wear a mask when socializing, until symptoms subside.

For 10 days after the onset of symptoms:

  • Keep your distance from others as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with vulnerable people, such as the elderly, the immunocompromised and people with health problems. If this is not possible, wear a mask.
  • Avoid direct contact for greetings, such as shaking hands and use alternative practices instead.
  • Choose remote activities, if possible, such as telework.
  • Avoid non-essential social events.
  • Tell the people you are in contact with that you might be contagious.

Perform a COVID-19 rapid test as soon as symptoms appear to find out if you have a COVID-19 infection.

If you are considered to be at high risk of complications from COVID-19, make an appointment to be tested for COVID-19 at a local health center. If you have COVID-19, you may be offered treatment to reduce the risk of complications. Talk to your pharmacist.

If you have to go to work, school or daycare, notify the head of the establishment that you have symptoms of a respiratory infectious disease and follow the measures in force in the establishment.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others. It allows your body to prepare its defense against the virus or bacteria.

Vaccinations against COVID-19, influenza and pneumococcal infections are available.

See the Vaccination against respiratory infections page to find out more.

Cover your face

Wearing a mask reduces the risk of transmission of several infectious respiratory diseases. The following individuals are recommended to wear a mask:

  • People who have symptoms of a respiratory infectious disease (fever, cough, sore throat or nasal congestion) during social interactions until symptoms disappear
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who have a health condition that makes them vulnerable
  • Pregnant women

Wearing a mask may be required in certain facilities where medical care is provided. Refer to the Wearing the mask page if necessary.

Cough into your elbow

When you cough or sneeze:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a paper tissue or your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and follow up with hand hygiene.

Keep your hands clean

Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based solution can be used if soap and water are not available.

Consult the hand washing techniques as needed.

Apply recognized hygiene measures

Get in the habit of regularly cleaning and disinfecting your environment and the sanitary appliances that you use. For example, clean and disinfect your counters and other frequently touched surfaces. Also, clean and disinfect toilets and sinks to keep them clean.

Cleaning and disinfecting are highly effective in eliminating germs, which can survive on hard surfaces. To clean and disinfect, you can rub surfaces with a household cleaner-disinfectant.

Ventilate your home well

During gatherings, you can regularly open the doors and windows to create a current of fresh air. Even if it is cold or humid outside, opening a window for just a few minutes at a time should help.

Special situations

In some situations, it is hard to follow the recommendations. Read on to find out how to adapt these recommendations to protect your health and the health of others.

Providing essential support to a vulnerable person when you or the vulnerable person have symptoms

  • Ventilate the rooms you are in.
  • Be very vigilant about wearing a mask and be sure to keep a good distance from the person you are supporting, whenever possible.
  • Ask the person you are supporting to wear a mask in your presence.
  • Limit the time you spend with the vulnerable person.
  • Make frequent hand hygiene.

How to care for a child under the age of 5 who has symptoms

  • Wear a mask while you take care of the child.
  • Make frequent hand hygiene.

How to care for a baby under 3 months old

Young babies are particularly at risk for certain infectious respiratory diseases. To protect a baby under 3 months of age from germs that cause these diseases:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential activities and social interactions.
  • Practise hand hygiene and ask people who are around your baby to do so too.
  • Get yourself and your child vaccinated according to the regular vaccination schedule. Invite your family and friends to do the same.

When wearing a mask is not possible

Avoid all contact with people if you have symptoms and cannot wear a mask.

Last update: November 14, 2023


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