Prevention of Coronavirus


Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  1. respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  2. close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  3. touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.

Preventing coronavirus

At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 or any natural health products that are authorized to protect against it.

Do you think you might have COVID-19? Use our self-assessment tool to find out what to do.

If you have travelled outside of Canada

Federal and provincial public health leaders have recommended that all travellers from outside of Canada self-isolate for 14 days. These efforts will contribute to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

If you have COVID-19, reduce contact with others

If you are sick, reduce contact with others by:

  1. staying at home and self-isolating (unless directed to seek medical care)
    • if you must leave your home, wear a mask or cover your mouth and nose with tissues, and maintain a 2-metre distance from others
  2. avoiding individuals in hospitals and long-term care centres, especially older adults and those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems
  3. avoiding having visitors to your home
  4. covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing and sneezing
  5. having supplies delivered to your home instead of running errands
    • supplies should be dropped off outside to ensure a 2-metre distance

It is important to know how you can prepare in case you or a family member become ill.

Self-monitor, self-isolate and isolate

There is a difference between advice to self-monitor, advice to self-isolate and advice to isolate. It is important to note these measures are in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians.—Social distancing

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. With patience and cooperation, we can all do our part.

This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

  1. avoiding non-essential gatherings
  2. avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  3. avoiding crowded places such as concerts, arenas, conferences and festivals
  4. limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
  5. keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others


Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading the infection to others:

  1. wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
    • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  2. when coughing or sneezing:
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands afterwards
  3. avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  4. use approved disinfectants when cleaning hard high-touch surfaces
  5. clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
    • toys
    • toilets
    • phones
    • electronics
    • door handles
    • bedside tables
    • television remotes

Wearing masks

If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.

However, your health care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading you when you cough or sneeze.

Risks of getting coronavirus

Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel.

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  1. aged 65 and over
  2. with compromised immune systems
  3. with underlying medical conditions

While a COVID-19 outbreak is not unexpected in Canada, our public health system is prepared to respond. The Public Health Agency of Canada, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, continues to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

As well, the risk for COVID-19 may be increased for certain settings such as:

  1. cruise ships
  2. heavily affected areas
  3. international conferences and other large gatherings in enclosed spaces

It is important for all travellers to:

  1. self-isolate for 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada
  2. monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after returning to Canada
  3. wash your hands often for 20 seconds and cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand

If you have even mild symptoms, stay home and call the public health authority in the province or territory you are in to inform them. They will provide advice on what you should do.

We will continue to adapt our risk assessment based on the latest data available.

Pregnant women

Throughout pregnancy, women experience changes in their bodies that may increase the risk of some illnesses, including viral respiratory infections, such as the flu. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at a greater risk for more serious outcomes related to COVID-19.

It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses and take the appropriate steps to avoid and prevent infection. Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of getting an infection or spreading the infection to others.

If you are pregnant and concerned about COVID-19, speak to your health care provider.

Products shipped from outside of Canada

Coronaviruses generally do not survive on surfaces after being contaminated. The risk of spread from products shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature is very low.

There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages.


There is currently no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus. Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

If we become aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to ensure the safety of Canada’s food supply.

Animals in Canada

There is currently no evidence to suggest that this virus is circulating in animals in Canada.

It is possible that some types of animals can be infected with COVID-19 but there is no evidence that pets or other animals can spread the virus. There are still many unknowns about COVID-19 and this is an area that remains to be studied and understood.

Until we know more, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet or other animal:

  1. avoid close contact with them
    • do not snuggle or kiss them, or let them lick you, sit on your lap, or sleep in your bed
  2. practice good cough etiquette
    • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
  3. have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this is not possible, always wash your hands before touching or feeding them
  4. limit your animal’s contact with other people and animals
    • this may mean keeping them indoors

To date, there have not been any reports of livestock being infected by COVID-19 anywhere. However, livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area. For more information on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult the:

  1. National Biosecurity Standards and Biosecurity Principles
  2. National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide.

These recommendations will be updated as more information becomes available.

Animals in or from other countries

Although the current spread and growth of the COVID-19 outbreak is primarily associated with spread from person to person, experts agree that the virus likely originated from bats and may have passed through an intermediary animal source (currently unknown) in China before being transmitted to humans.

It is recommended that individuals who travel to avoid contact with animals, including wild meat and wet (live animal) markets.

If you are considering travel, check the latest travel health notices for the most up-to-date travel advice prior to travelling.

All animals entering Canada must meet import requirements set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. There are currently no specific requirements in place in Canada restricting animal importation related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is because there is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can spread the virus.

However, importers, rescue organizations and adoptive families should limit or postpone importing animals from affected areas. If animals are imported from an affected area:

  • they should be closely monitored for signs of illness
  • you should contact a veterinarian if they become sick
    • call ahead to ensure they are aware of the circumstances

False and misleading claims

We have not approved any product to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19. Selling unauthorized health products or making false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada. We take this matter very seriously and we are taking action to stop this activity.

We have also not approved any disinfectant products with claims specific to COVID-19. However, authorized disinfectant products can make a claim of a broad spectrum of activity against viruses if they meet specific evidence standards. We are working with companies and we will publish a list of disinfectant products that can make this claim to help Canadians make effective choices.

We encourage anyone who has information regarding the potential non-compliant sale or advertising of any health product claiming to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19, to report it using our online complaint form.

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