Prepare and Prevent

On this page:

Living with the risk of COVID-19

UPDATED Last updated: September 22, 2020

Focus on the Fundamentals:

  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your cough/sneeze
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Stay 2m/6ft apart
  • Wear a mask if you can't physically distance


As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, Manitobans have played a significant role in supporting a number of public health measures. These behaviors have put the province in a good position to continue a phased approach to easing these measures.

However, this is not a return to normal. The risk of COVID-19 is still present and will likely remain for some time.

While everyone takes risks in their lives each and every day, the key is to take precautions to minimize those risks. We are now at a point where everyone needs to learn how to live with the COVID-19 virus, and how people can reduce their personal risk. People are social beings, and need to connect with others. When attending events or visiting with friends and family, everyone should consider what steps they can take to minimize risks.

The level of risk that individuals and businesses are comfortable with is different for every person. As public health measures are lifted and/or eased and things start to reopen, each person and business needs to decide their comfort level of risk related to COVID-19.

The steps we take individually and collectively going forward will go a long way to ensuring we can resume many of our activities, including visiting family and friends and hosting or attending child playdates.

Individuals at increased risk of serious outcomes from COVID-19, including individuals older than 60 years and those living with a compromised immune system or chronic condition, should continue to limit non-essential outings. If these individuals choose to visit with family, they should avoid close contact and maintain an appropriate physical distance, preferably outdoors, to lower their risk as much as possible.

By adopting the following habits, we can reduce our risk and the risks to others.

  • If you are sick, even if you only feel a little unwell, stay home and isolate. Use the online self-assessment tool to see if you may be at risk of having COVID-19.
  • Individuals - If you are sick, do not leave your home to go to work, school or other public places (e.g. stores, restaurants, churches, etc.), unless you require urgent medical care.
  • Parents/ Caregivers - If your children are sick, they should stay home from school, daycare, playdates and/or extra-curricular activities.
  • Employers - Develop and implement workplace policies that allow and encourage employees to stay home when sick.
  • Sports teams/ activity organizers/ schools/ daycares - Do not allow anyone who is sick to attend/ participate.
  • If you have concerns about your symptoms, or are unsure whether you should be tested, call Health Links - Info Santé (204-788-8200 or toll free at 1-888-315-9257).
  • When you are with others outside your household, gather in outdoor settings where possible, and maintain physical distancing except for brief exchanges.
  • Limit the number of people that you come in contact with at this time to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as food or drinks.
  • Practice proper cough etiquette. Turn away from people and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Practice proper hand hygiene.

How can I reduce my risk of infection from COVID-19?

Good hand hygiene provides significant protection from viral respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19.

People are encouraged to take common prevention measures, including regular handwashing with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds. Make sure to dry your hands thoroughly. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if your hands are not visibly dirty.

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
  • when hands are visibly dirty

You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or you can cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid close contact (within two metres or six feet) with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing or sneezing. Children and adolescents should avoid sharing food or drinks (e.g., sippy cups and water bottles), musical instruments or other things that have been in a person’s mouth or hands.

Testing is critical to identify and isolate cases and contacts early, to limit further spread and protect those at increased risk. Individuals experiencing any respiratory symptoms are encouraged to visit a community screening location.

Social (Physical) Distancing

NEW Last updated: June 13, 2020

Manitoba public health officials have issued public health orders. Please visit the State of Emergency page to see how these orders affect you.

Social (physical) distancing works by limiting the number of people that you, and your family, come into close contact (within two metres/ six feet). Health officials in Manitoba have already recommended many kinds of social (physical) distancing, including school closures, changes in workplaces and the cancellation of public gatherings where close contact cannot be avoided.

What does social (physical) distancing look like?

2 meters apart

Social (Physical) Distancing Infographic

Social (Physical) Distancing (pdf)



Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19


UPDATED Last updated: August 12, 2020

No. Influenza and coronaviruses are different types of viruses. The seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine protects against four strains of the flu during the flu season, which generally runs from October to April. The flu vaccine is recommended every year because there are many different strains of flu virus that circulate each year. Although the flu vaccine cannot protect against COVID-19, it will help reduce the number of people getting sick and needing medical treatment in hospital in the fall and winter months when we expect to see an increase of COVID-19 cases in Canada.


UPDATED Last updated: August 12, 2020

If in the previous 14 days you have recently returned from travel and/ or had close contact with a COVID-19 case you will be advised to self-isolate and self-monitor yourself for symptoms. If during the self-monitoring period you start to experience fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or any other symptoms (see detailed table below) call Health Links - Info Santé to determine where to go for testing and/or assessment. If it is an emergency, call 911.

COVID-19 Symptoms - If you have one symptom listed in column A, OR two or more symptoms listed in column B, you should immediately isolate yourself and contact Health Links - Info Santé for further instructions, including where to go for testing and/or assessment.

Fever/Chills Runny nose
Cough Muscle aches
Sore throat/hoarse voice Fatique
Difficulty breathing Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Loss of taste or smell Headache
Vomiting, or diarrhea for more than 24 hours Skin rash of unknown cause
  Poor feeding if an infant
  Nausea or loss of appetite

Guidance for Proper Mask Use

UPDATED Last updated: September 17, 2020

People release respiratory droplets by sneezing, coughing, spitting, heavy breathing, singing or simply talking. COVID-19 mainly spreads through close contact (within two metres or six feet) with an infected person’s respiratory droplets. You may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has been contaminated by the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Wearing a non-medical mask does not protect the person wearing the mask, but may help protect the people around them. When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask may reduce the spread of their own respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces.

Wearing a mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19. However, masks are another tool that may help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, especially in indoor public spaces if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Non-medical mask use may be mandated in certain regions of the province or at certain locations. Up-to-date information on current mask mandates in Manitoba can be found as part of the province’s #RestartMB Pandemic Response System.

NOTE: People must continue to practice important public health fundamentals to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba. This includes staying home when sick, practicing proper hand hygiene (hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) cough etiquette, and practicing physical distancing.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

The evidence supporting the use of non-medical masks in the community continues to evolve. It is important to remember that wearing a non-medical mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19. To be effective, wearing a non-medical mask must be paired with practicing good public health fundamentals. This means staying at home when sick, practising frequent and proper hand hygiene, covering coughs and physical distancing from people outside of your immediate household.

Non-medical masks are not like personal protective equipment (PPE) used in healthcare. The PPE used in healthcare, such as medical masks and respirators, must pass standards and regulations to be used, and staff are trained in how to use it properly. Non-medical masks may not provide protection from germs because of the materials used or because they are loose fitting or not worn properly. As well, they can become damaged or the fabric can break down with time or with washing, which will reduce the usefulness of a non-medical mask.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

Non-medical masks should not be worn by anyone who:

  • is unable to remove the mask without assistance (for example, due to age, ability or developmental status),
  • is actively having breathing difficulties, or
  • is under the age of two.

Additional information on mask requirements for schools is available at: Restoring Safe Schools.

Note: Depending on the data and level of COVID-19 transmission in various settings, some public health orders may require masks to be worn by people of different ages. Please visit #RestartMB Pandemic Response System for the most up-to-date information on mask requirements.

In general, most people with underlying medical conditions can safely wear a mask. There is no evidence that wearing a mask will worsen an underlying medical condition. For example, in most situations, an individual with an underlying lung condition such as asthma or an underlying heart condition can safely wear a mask.

If you are concerned about your ability or the ability of someone you care for to safely wear a mask, please speak with a health care provider. If you or someone you care for is either unable to properly wear a mask or have a medical condition that does not allow you to wear a mask, a doctor’s note or a note from another health care provider is not required.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

Homemade masks must be made of a minimum of two layers. Non-medical masks must be made of tightly woven material (i.e. cotton or linen), and fit securely with no gaps. Most importantly, you must feel comfortable in your non-medical mask.

In addition, reusable non-medical masks should not have any holes or valves that are open to the air. Holes or valves allow respiratory droplets to escape from the non-medical mask and decreases its ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you choose to make your own non-medical mask, Health Canada has developed sew and no-sew patterns for making masks at home.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

Lanyards that go around the neck and tie to the ear loops of the mask to keep people from losing or misplacing a mask are not recommended. This is because dangling a mask from your neck contaminates the mask, and encourages the wearer to touch, adjust and/or move the mask unnecessarily.

Instead, public health officials recommend masks be placed in a clean bag or container clearly labeled “dirty masks” when they need to removed.

NEW Last updated: September 18, 2020

When masks are not worn properly, they will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others and may also put the person wearing them at greater risk of infection.

To wear a mask properly, you must follow this advice:

  • Keep clean masks in a clearly-marked bag or container.
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Pick up the mask by the loops/strings/ties. Put it over both your nose and mouth and attach it behind your ears or tie behind your head.
  • Check your mask to make sure it fits snug with no gaps. Then, practice good hand hygiene by washing or sanitizing your hands again.
  • If you touch your mask - practice good hand hygiene right away.
  • When you are ready to remove it, practice good hand hygiene. Then, remove the mask by holding the loops/ties/strings, being careful not to touch the outside of the mask.
  • If it is a reusable mask and you’re planning on re-wearing it again, ensure it is folded so that the outside part of the mask is folded inward, and place it in a breathable bag (paper bag or envelope) for later use if it is not damp or soiled.
  • If it is a reusable mask and you are not planning to use it again, put it in a bag or container labeled “dirty masks”.
  • If it's a one-use mask, throw it in the garbage after use.
  • After removing your mask correctly, practice good hand hygiene right away.

People should practice proper mask use and remember the following:

  • Do not touch the mask or your face while wearing the mask. If you do, practice good hand hygiene.
  • Change your mask whenever it gets moist, dirty or damaged.
  • The bag or container where you store your worn masks should be different from the one where you store your clean masks. Clearly labeling the bags/containers, “dirty” and “clean” will help keep your clean and dirty masks separate.
  • If you are planning to reuse a mask, you need to have a separate, breathable bag that does not retain moisture from the mask. A paper bag or envelope is best.  
  • Reusable masks must be washed after each days use with your laundry machine’s hot water cycle, then thoroughly dried.

Please visit the Health Canada website for more information on how to wear a mask properly. You can also visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website for posters and guidelines for how to safely use a non-medical mask.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

Masks can be worn until they become damp, dirty or soiled. Masks can become contaminated when touched by the wearer’s hands and their usefulness decreases when the masks become damp or soiled.

If a mask becomes damp or soiled, remove the mask. Practice good hand hygiene by washing or sanitizing your hands before and after mask removal. If it is a disposable mask, it should go directly into the garbage. If it is a reusable mask, place it in a clearly labeled container or bag for cleaning at a later time.

It is important to follow all guidance related to properly taking off the mask, including cleaning your hands before and after touching the mask.

NEW Last updated: September 17, 2020

A mask must fit well and cover the nose, mouth and chin without any gaps.

Masks can become contaminated on the outside, or when touched by the hands of the person wearing the mask. This is why avoiding touching your face while wearing a mask and cleaning your hands before putting on a mask, after taking off a mask and after touching a mask is so important.

Masks with ear loops rather than strings/ties should be used for children, especially younger ones, as strings/ties may be a choking hazard.

Do not share a mask with others or let a mask dangle from one ear. This increases the chance of contamination.

Do not pull it below your nose or mouth so it is only covering your chin. This increases the chance your mask becomes contaminated and means your respiratory droplets can still spread to others or land on surfaces.

Practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Available posters and additional information.

Mail and Parcels

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that come from a person’s throat or lungs when they cough or sneeze, and these droplets can fall on surfaces, thereby contaminating the surface. However, washing your hands before and after handling and opening your mail and/or packages, as well as avoiding touching your face while handling these materials, will reduce the possibility of transmitting COVID-19.


UPDATED Last updated: August 12, 2020

Transmission of COVID-19 occurs most commonly through close contact (within two meters/six feet) with an infected person who is coughing or sneezing. It can also spread by touching objects and surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. This is because current evidence shows that COVID-19 can survive for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. This is why it is very important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people commonly touch (e.g., door handles/knobs, railings, elevator buttons, light switches, water fountains, etc.) as well as frequent hand hygiene and avoid touching your face.

All public places (e.g., shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants) as well as workplaces should ensure all surfaces and commonly touched objects are cleaned and then disinfected at least twice daily or, as needed (i.e., if surfaces/objects are visibility dirty). Cleaning removes germs and dirt using soap and warm water. Disinfecting kills germs using diluted bleach (20ml (4 teaspoons) bleach for every Litre of water), alcohol solutions with at least 70 per cent alcohol or Health Canada approved products. Ensure the disinfectant is on the surface/object for one minute. People should wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects, and wash their hands for at least 15 seconds. If you do not have access to water and soap, use an alcohol based sanitizer. For soft surfaces and items such as carpeted flooring, rugs and curtains, clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces/items or, wash in the washing machine using hot water if possible.

Risk, Case Identification, Testing, Contact Tracing

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

A health care provider determines if an individual requires COVID-19 testing based on their symptoms and/or potential exposure to COVID-19 through recent travel or contact with someone who has COVID-19. The health care provider uses a nasopharyngeal swab to take a sample and sends it to the laboratory for COVID-19 testing. More information about testing.

Note: Decisions related to testing for COVID-19 are based on current and evolving public health evidence and are NOT based on client and/or employer requests. Testing advice and recommendations may change as the outbreak continues to evolve. In situations where COVID-19 testing is not recommended, a clearance or exclusion letter will NOT be issued for employees to provide to employers.

When dealing with COVID-19, screening is done to see if a person has symptoms of COVID-19 or, has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 through travel or contact with someone who has COVID-19. Diagnostic testing is done to identify an illness in an individual, which helps health care providers to determine the best way to provide treatment.

Because the symptoms of COVID-19 are so similar to that of other respiratory viruses, people are tested once the screening has taken place to confirm which virus is causing their symptoms.


NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

While many people will develop only mild symptoms, some groups appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Those at higher risk may develop more serious, even fatal, symptoms such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure. 

High risk groups include those:

  • 60 years of age and older
  • living with a chronic health condition (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, renal disease or chronic lung condition)
  • with a weakened immune system (e.g. cancer or autoimmune disease)

People over the age of 60 are also more likely to have underlying chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. While not all individuals over 60 years of age have underlying chronic health conditions, they are still at risk of becoming sicker compared to younger individuals due to changes that the human body goes through with age. Older people don't have as strong an immune system so they are more vulnerable to infectious disease. The risk increases with age.

Canadian statistics show that greater than 95% of deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred in people aged 60 and over. People over the age of 60 are also more likely to require hospitalization or admission to intensive care.

Given the increased risk, individuals in high risk groups should consider:

  • Staying home if possible and avoiding unnecessary outings and gatherings. Using drop-off/ delivery services for groceries and medications, or seeking help from friends and family.
  • Avoiding close contact and maintaining an appropriate physical distance, preferably in outdoor settings, if choosing to visit with family.
  • Avoiding large groups of people/ crowds.
  • Avoiding contact with anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Following physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Limiting the number of people you come into contact with at this time to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Having a plan for if you get sick, that includes who can care for you.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. This is true in Canada as well as in other countries that have reported widespread transmission of COVID-19.

There is much more to be learned about how COVID-19 affects children. So far, we know children are less likely than adults to catch, spread or get sick from COVID-19. Between March 12 and July 1, Manitoba data shows that approximately five per cent of all COVID-19 cases are in children (aged 19 years and younger).
While many children will develop only mild symptoms, some appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Those at higher risk can develop more serious symptoms. High risk groups include those:

  • less than one year of age
  • with a chronic medical condition (e.g., diabetes, chronic lung conditions)
with weakened immune systems (e.g., cancer, transplant recipients)

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Unlike adults, most children generally present with no symptoms, or more mild symptoms. Otherwise, children generally experience the same symptoms as adults. The most commonly reported symptoms include a dry cough, aching/painful muscles, malaise, a fever and a sore throat.

In addition, children and adolescents may also present with toes and/or fingers that have a purplish-blue discoloration. Mainstream media have called this “COVID toes,” a benign symptom that generally goes away without treatment.

For a full list of COVID-19 symptoms, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/about/index.html.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

It is important to encourage children to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things all Manitobans should do to stay healthy. This includes:

  • staying home when sick, no matter how mild the symptoms
  • maintaining a two metre/six foot physical distance from people outside of their immediate household
  • practicing good hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  • avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth especially when they are away from home and visiting public places
  • providing age-appropriate information to help them better understand and cope with COVID-19 and all of the changes that have resulted to their daily lives

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

There have been reports from Europe and North America that describe small clusters of children and adolescents with a rare condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This is also commonly referred to as paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS).

Although this kind of illness has been seen in other infections in the past, MIS-C is new and has been associated with COVID-19. Cases of MIS-C have been identified from infants to adolescents. The symptoms are similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, in which different parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

Early symptoms most commonly reported include:

  • fever
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • neck pain
  • rash
  • extreme tiredness
  • breathing difficulty/shortness of breath
  • conjunctivitis
  • swollen lips, hands or feet

Some symptoms (e.g., breathing difficulties/shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, inability to wake/stay awake) can be very serious and require urgent medical care and treatment. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care centre should your child be experiencing any severe symptoms.

MIS-C has been diagnosed in some children after they were infected with COVID-19, or in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. MIS-C may begin weeks after a child is infected with COVID-19, and in some cases, the child and their caregivers may not even know they had been infected. Cases of MIS-C have typically been reported in areas with high levels of COVID-19 in the community.

Since MIS-C is a new disease, it can be challenging to diagnose, but early diagnosis is important. Treatment for MIS-C requires care from pediatric specialists in a hospital, and involves treatments that decrease the inflammation. The majority of children with MIS-C have recovered, but whether there are any long-term effects is unknown at this time.

Even though MIS-C and COVID-19 emerged at the same time, we don’t yet know what causes MIS-C. There is still much to learn about MIS-C and how it affects children, including finding out the causes of MIS-C and why some children have gotten sick with MIS-C while others have not.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Although rare, MIS-C can be very serious if not diagnosed and treated early. Parents, guardians and caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children and MIS-C, and seek medical care.

If you think your child may have COVID-19 or MIS-C, contact your child’s health care provider, or call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free) for advice on testing, assessment and treatment. If it is a medical emergency, call 911 or take your child to the nearest urgent care centre or emergency department.

Go to www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/bewell/helpingothers.html for more information about COVID-19 and kids.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Evidence related to pregnancy and COVID-19 risk is limited. This is a new virus and public health officials continue to review emerging COVID-19 data and research and make recommendations. Given the evolving nature of this situation, recommendations may change over time.  

We know that pregnancy places women at higher risk of serious infections due to normal changes that occur in the body while pregnant and affects their immune system. Infections during pregnancy may also lead to other adverse outcomes such as premature labour and delivery. There is limited evidence on pregnant women with COVID-19 and a few cases of serious illness including severe pneumonia has been reported in pregnant women infected with COVID-19. However, the currently available evidence indicates that the majority of pregnant women are not at more risk of becoming infected by the virus or at more risk of getting more severe COVID-19 disease than comparable aged adults.

Knowing these risks, pregnant women are encouraged to take precautions to protect themselves from illness such as:

  • practicing proper hand frequently and cough etiquette 
  • following physical distancing guidelines
  • staying home if possible and avoiding unnecessary outings and gatherings including avoiding large crowds
  • avoiding individuals who are sick
  • avoiding unnecessary travel
  • if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/about/index.html) you are encouraged to get tested  

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

For more information, visit:

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Evidence related to COVID-19 risk to the fetus/newborn is limited. Currently, there isn’t strong evidence of vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to fetus (i.e. mother passing the infection to her unborn child). However, there have been a few cases of possible vertical transmission, but these have been in situations where the pregnant woman was very sick with COVID-19 and she also had another medical condition that weakened her immune system. Fortunately, for most pregnant women with COVID-19, their newborn infant has had minimal complications. It is also important to remember that newborns can become infected after birth by their caregivers and anyone else they are in contact with. Infants less than a year of age are at higher risk for more severe illness due to COVID-19. It is important to follow recommendations provided by your health care providers and healthcare facility around the time of birth and after returning home, to lower these risks.