FAQ about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. 'CO' stands for corona, 'VI' for virus, and 'D' for disease. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold and flu. However, COVID-19 is a new and deadly strain of coronavirus that had not previously been identified in humans.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close contact with one another. Small liquid particles from an infected person’s mouth or nose travel when they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe heavily, and come into contact with another person’s nose, mouth, or eyes. It is also possible for COVID-19 to spread after people sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces or objects, such as tables, doorknobs, and handrails. Other people touch these contaminated surfaces then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth without having cleaned their hands first.

This knowledge highlights the importance of wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of 2 metres (6 feet), and frequently washing your hands whenever you are around others outside of your immediate household.

For more information on how COVID-19 spreads, click here

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person. They may also differ according to age group.

The most common symptoms include:

  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • Feeling feverish
  • Chills
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
  • Feeling very unwell

For more information on COVID-19 symptoms, click here

What can I do to protect myself and others from COVID-19?

The best chance of preventing COVID-19 is to follow public health measures. While public health measures will vary by region, all Canadians should keep in mind the following:

  • Wear a mask or face covering when you are in any setting where you might come in close contact with people from outside your immediate household
  • Avoid enclosed spaces, crowded places, and close-range conversations with people outside your immediate household
  • Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from people outside of your immediate household
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Stick to a small and consistent social circle and avoid gathering in large groups
  • Stay home and away from others if you feel sick
  • Limit non-essential travel
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene. This includes covering your mouth and nose with the inside of a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as phones, doorknobs/handles, tablets, toilets, remotes, etc.

For more information on how to reduce COVID-19 in your community, click here

Should I wear a mask to prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

Wearing a non-medical mask in Ontario is mandatory in any public indoor space where it is difficult to consistently maintain a 2-metre (6 feet) physical distance from others. This includes settings such as stores, event spaces, shopping areas, and public transportation.

For more information on face coverings and face masks in Ontario, click here

What do I do if I have or someone that I have regular direct contact with has been exposed to or has COVID-19?

Immediately notify management at your workplace if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19. You must also contact your local public health officials. If directed by a public health official or medical doctor, you must quarantine yourself at home for 14 days. Following self-quarantine, you must provide a doctor’s note clearing your return to work. If you develop symptoms during the quarantine period, your absence will be treated like any regular Short-Term Disability (STD).

If you live in Ontario and believe you were exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, click here

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

Yes. Health Canada’s independent drug authorization process is recognized worldwide for its high standard and rigorous review period. Decisions regarding vaccinations are based on scientific and medical evidence that demonstrates a particular vaccine's safety and effectiveness.

For more information on Health Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine review process, click here

There are many COVID-19 vaccines out there. Which ones have been approved by Health Canada?

As of January 19, 2021, Health Canada has approved the use of two different COVID-19 vaccines. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. However, the number of vaccines may vary as other vaccines progress. For more information on how each vaccine works, how it’s administered, its ingredients, and possible side effects, visit the links listed below. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, click here Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, click here

How much will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

Both COVID-19 vaccines are free in Canada and will be available to all permanent residents throughout 2021.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccines are in limited supply due to the current worldwide demand. As a result, the COVID-19 vaccinations will be distributed to the following populations first:

  • Residents and staff of shared living settings who provide care for seniors
  • Adults 70 years of age and older, with a priority on adults 80 years of age and older
  • Health care workers who have direct contact with patients
  • Adults in Indigenous communities

As additional COVID-19 vaccines and supplies become available, the following populations will be offered vaccinations:

  • Health care workers not included in the initial rollout
  • Residents and staff of all other shared living settings such as:
    • Homeless shelters
    • Correctional facilities
    • Housing for migrant workers
  • Essential workers who face additional risks to maintain services for the functioning of society.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and distribution, click here