Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 

COVID-19 Prevention and Assessing Risk


As Manitoba shifts from public health orders to public health recommendations, it is important to remember that there are still many measures that we can take to protect ourselves and each other. Following public health guidance and understanding situations where there is a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 can help you stay safe and protect others.

Measures implemented during the pandemic slowed the spread of COVID-19 and helped to maintain capacity in our health care system, but they also had other significant impacts on our society. Some of these impacts have been positive, but many have caused disruption and negative impacts to our lives and communities.

COVID-19 will continue to circulate in Manitoba and around the world. However, we need to balance this with the need to resume normal activities for our overall mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. This is possible due to the success of the vaccination program and COVID-19 treatments for those who remain at higher risk of severe disease. 

Each person will choose a different path for resuming normal activities based on their own personal risk and preferences.

Easing restrictions can bring about many different feelings and it is important to recognize that they may not be the same for everyone. Be patient with yourself and others through this time. Remember it can take time to readjust to things we have not done for a while. We need to be respectful and supportive of additional measures that some individuals and businesses may continue taking as they seek to reduce their risk and protect themselves, their families and communities. 

If the COVID-19 situation changes in Manitoba, public health may make additional recommendations to help reduce impacts on our health care system, or if a change in the virus increases the risk of severe disease. Even though public health orders have been removed, public health continues to closely monitor the situation and will update Manitobans about these kinds of changes as needed.


COVID-19 Prevention

People can continue to take these steps to reduce their risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19:




Get vaccinated

Vaccines significantly lower the risk of severe outcomes, such as hospitalizations and death. Vaccines are the best defense against the virus and individuals are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, visit protectmb.ca/ or manitoba.ca/covid19/vaccine/index.html.




Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently

Hand hygiene includes handwashing or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Good hand hygiene provides significant protection from many infections, including viral respiratory illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19.

Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards. If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, allow your hands to dry afterwards.

It is especially important to clean your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing,
  • when caring for a sick person,
  • before, during and after you prepare food,
  • before eating,
  • after toilet use, and
  • when hands are visibly dirty.

If your hands are visibly dirty, it is important for you to wash your hands with soap and water.

Manitoba has hand hygiene posters available in several languages.




Cover your Cough / Sneeze

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.

Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Manitoba has cover your cough/sneeze posters available in several languages.




Stay Home When You Are Sick

Stay home if you are sick, even if you are only feeling a little unwell. During that time, avoid contact with others - including people in your household. Follow public health recommendations for isolation when you are sick (manitoba.ca/covid19/info-for-mbs.html).

You should not leave your home to go to work, social activities, sports/activities, visit public places (e.g. stores, restaurants, churches, etc.) or visit others from outside your household. If your child(ren) are sick, they should not leave home for school, daycare, playdates or extracurricular activities.

You should wear a well-fitting, well-made mask if you have contact with other people while you are ill and for 10 days after the onset of your symptoms.

Employers are encouraged to develop and implement workplace policies that allow and encourage employees to stay home when sick.

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and treatment . Use the online self-assessment tool, or call Health Links - Info Santé to help determine your next steps if you or your child(ren) are sick.




Assess Your Risk

As we transition from public health orders to public health recommendations, a personal risk assessment can help you determine your comfort level when participating in specific activities, and helps you know what to do if you develop symptoms.

Getting vaccinated helps prevent serious illness and hospitalization, but the risk of exposure, contracting, or spreading COVID-19 is never zero. Deciding what personal preventive measures, like masking, you want to use and in what settings could depend on:

  • your vaccination status,
  • your age and health status,
  • the age and health status of those around you,
  • COVID-19 activity levels in your community, and
  • what settings and activities you're engaging in (for example: risk may be higher in crowded indoor settings and lower in outdoor settings).

These are some of the factors that may put you at higher risk of developing severe outcomes from COVID-19:
  • if you are not fully vaccinated or boosted with a third dose,
  • your risk increases with age,
  • chronic medical conditions,
  • immunocompromising conditions, due to a medical condition or treatment,
  • obesity,
  • smoking, or
  • pregnancy.

Some populations are also at overall risk of severe outcomes, which may be related to where they live or work, such as in congregate or crowded settings, and how they access care. This includes people with disabilities, and people who are Indigenous or Black or other people of colour.




Make Decisions about Additional Measures Based on Personal Risk and Preference

Once you understand your personal risk and preferences, you should feel better prepared to make decisions about what measures are right for you in certain settings. These are some to consider:

  • Physical distancing works by limiting the number of people that you come into close contact with (within two metres / six feet). Physical distancing may be practiced when you feel your risk of exposure to COVID-19 may be high.
  • Mask recommendations: Wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols. Well-fitting, well-made masks can help reduce the spread of the virus. You may choose to wear a mask in any setting based on your personal risk assessment or preference. Consider wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings where you may come into close contact with people you do not know or normally interact with.
    Masks are recommended for:
    • Individuals at higher risk of severe illness, particularly if they are in a crowded indoor setting, or for everyone in a setting where there are many people who are at higher risk for severe disease. For example, healthcare facilities and personal care homes may continue to require mask use.
    • Individuals who are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 should wear a mask if they need to leave their home or have contact with others for 10 days after their symptoms started or if they have no symptoms, 10 days after the date of the positive test.
    • Individuals caring for someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 should wear a mask.
    • Visit Manitoba Health or Health Canada for more information on how to wear a mask properly. The Public Health Agency of Canada has posters and guidelines on how to safely use a non-medical mask.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces and crowds if you are at higher risk of severe illness. If you are indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. Outdoor gatherings are lower risk of transmission, and may be preferred for individuals at higher risk.
  • Keep gathering sizes smaller and limit the number of people you routinely have close contact with. This is important when COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. 



Know if You're Eligible for Treatment

Treatment is now available to people at higher risk of developing severe outcomes from COVID-19. It can only be given within 5 to 7 days of the start of your symptoms, so the best time to find out if you would be eligible for treatment is before you get sick. If you are eligible, get tested early, because treatment in the early phases of a COVID-19 infection can prevent hospitalization or even death.

Information on COVID-19 treatments and eligibility for those at higher risk is available at https://gov.mb.ca/covid19/treatment/index.html.




Remember that everyone’s situation is different, and their risk tolerance and comfort level is not the same.

We need to be respectful and supportive of additional measures that some individuals and businesses may continue taking as they seek to reduce their risk and protect others.  At the same time, cautiously resuming normal activities is important for our overall individual and community well-being.