Prepare and Prevent

On this page:

Living with the risk of COVID-19

NEW Last updated: June 2, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, Manitobans have played a significant role in supporting a number of public health measures and successfully flattened the curve. 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. 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 SantÚ (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 cleanser 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 cleanser.

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


At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UPDATED Last updated: March 19, 2020

No. Influenza and coronaviruses are different types of viruses. The seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine protects against four strains of the flu during flu season, which generally runs from October to April. The 2019 flu vaccine is a good match for the flu strains that are circulating. The flu vaccine is recommended every year because there are many different strains of flu virus that circulate each year.


Depending on a person's exposure (i.e., contact with an ill person or recent travel), they may be advised to self-monitor for symptoms and/or to self-isolate.

Some people may be more familiar with different terminology, such as quarantine. In the response to COVID-19 for people who are well but have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, quarantine and self-isolation mean the same thing: to stay home and keep away from other people.

Isolation is recommended for a individual with symptoms that is suspected of having, or known to have, COVID-19. Like self-isolation for well people who are exposed to a virus, people with symptoms must stay home and keep away from other people. This includes their household members, until they are no longer considered contagious.

  • To self-monitor for symptoms means to record your temperature twice daily, as well as monitor your general well-being to see if/when other symptoms develop (e.g., cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing).
  • To self-isolate means that in addition to self-monitoring, you should stay home and keep away from other people. This means not attending activities or gatherings outside of the home, including work, school, university, health care and long-term care facilities, faith-based facilities (e.g., churches, mosques and synagogues), grocery stores, restaurants and shopping malls.

Some people have been advised to self-monitor themselves for symptoms due to their recent travels and/or contact with ill persons. If an individual has been self-monitoring and starts to experience fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or any other symptoms while at work, they should immediately separate themselves from coworkers and all other people, and call Health Links - Info Santé to determine the best course of action.

For provincial advice on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, click here.


UPDATED Last updated: April 7, 2020

If you are healthy, it is not clear there is any significant benefit to wearing a mask to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. However, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette will provide significant protection from viral respiratory illnesses.

If you are sick and experiencing symptoms such as coughing or sneezing, wearing a medical mask can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. This is why people who are experiencing cough or respiratory symptoms are provided with a medical mask to wear when visiting a health facility including an urgent care centre, emergency department or community screening location. If you are sick, you are advised to self-isolate and stay away from other people, including members of your household.

It is important in a public health emergency to ensure medical masks are reserved for health care workers. This includes medical/procedure masks, and N95 masks. N95 masks are used by health care workers during certain kinds of medical procedures to protect health care workers from particles that are circulating in the air.

The best way to protect yourself is to regularly clean your hands, practice good cough etiquette and practice social (physical) distancing, including self-isolating when you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.

What about non-medical masks?

Wearing a non-medical mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette will provide significant protection from viral respiratory illnesses.

The evolving evidence on transmission of COVID-19 suggests that infected people may spread the virus without experiencing symptoms, or before symptoms begin. Choosing to wear a non-medical mask when visiting public places for essential trips (e.g., grocery stores, taking the bus) is one way to protect those around you. Be sure to carefully wash your hands before you put on a non-medical mask, and after you take it off. Also, avoid touching your face as much as possible. This will further reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Wearing a non-medical mask is another way of covering your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces. A mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with your respiratory droplets, in the same way as practicing cough etiquette by covering covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.

The best way to protect yourself is to regularly clean your hands, practice good cough etiquette and practice social (physical) distancing, including self-isolating when you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.

NEW Last updated: April 18, 2020

Careful hand hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and social and physical distancing, remain the best approach to reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus.

Wearing a homemade mask is another way of covering your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from spreading to others or landing on surfaces. Homemade masks may include those that are made of cloth (e.g. cotton), and can be made with pockets to insert other masks or filters.

The mask can reduce the chance that others are coming into contact with your respiratory droplets, in the same way as practicing cough etiquette by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.

Wearing a homemade (non-medical) mask in the community and when in public has not been proven to protect the person wearing it and is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing. However, it can be an additional measure that can protect others around you, even if you don't have any symptoms.

Homemade masks can be useful for short periods of time, when physical distancing is not possible. They can be worn in public settings such as using public transit, essential shopping trips and during health care appointments either in the home or when visiting a health care facility. You may also be asked to wear a non-medical mask by a health care provider to reduce the risk of transmission to others, even if you don't have symptoms.

However, homemade masks are not medical personal protective equipment and are not regulated like medical masks and respirators. They may not provide complete protection from virus particles because of a potential loose fit and the materials used.

If you choose to wear a non-medical face mask, you must do the following:

  • Wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off.
  • Practice good hand hygiene while wearing the mask.
  • Ensure your mask fits well (doesn't gape).
  • Do not share your mask with others.

Face masks can become contaminated on the outside, or when touched by your hands. Avoid touching your face mask while wearing it, change your mask as soon as it is damp or soiled and place the mask directly into a bag or into the washing machine, launder your mask on a hot cycle and dry it thoroughly.

Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (N95 and similar), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 positive and suspect patients.

COVDI-19 Use of Cloth Masks (pdf)

Mail and Parcels

At this time, there is no known risk of coronaviruses coming to Manitoba on parcels or packages coming from countries where COVID-19 is spreading in the community. And, there is no evidence that shows you can get COVID-19 by coming in contact with imported goods. To date, there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in Canada associated with goods imported from other countries.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that come from a person’s throat or lungs when they cough or sneeze. While droplets can fall on surfaces including parcels and packages, coronaviruses do not survive very long on surfaces and likely would not survive for the amount of time (e.g., days to weeks) it takes for packages to travel internationally.


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.).

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 EPA-registered household disinfectants. 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 a 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.

NEW Last updated: April 20, 2020

Currently, there is no evidence linking COVID-19 transmission to food or food packaging.  You should wash your hands when you return from the grocery store, both before and after putting groceries away.  Clean surfaces, such as counter tops, where grocery bags have touched with hot soapy water or use a disinfectant household solution according to the  instructions.  Re-usable bags and bins should be cleaned and sanitized after each use. Plastic bags can be disposed of with regular garbage or put away for re-use or recycle at a later time, as COVID-19 will not survive for long periods on these surfaces.

With purchased fruit and vegetables, wash your hands with soap and water before handling them.  You should wash your produce thoroughly under cold running water before eating and cooking them.

Risk, Case Identification, Testing, Contact Tracing

NEW Last updated: April 11, 2020

Many people think they may be a close contact. However, if they are, they will be notified by Public Health. Anyone who believes they are a contact are asked to call Health Links to be assessed. Health Links will determine if they are to be tested and provide recommendations (e.g., self-monitoring or self-isolation).

NEW Last updated: June 26, 2020

Public health officials continue to review emerging COVID-19 data and research. As information about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, evidence related to pregnancy and COVID-19 risk is limited. However, it is always important for pregnant women to take precautions such as practicing proper hand and cough hygiene and following social distancing guidelines to protect themselves from illness. If you are concerned about pregnancy and COVID-19, speak to your health care provider.

More information on pregnancy, birthing and bringing your baby home (pdf)

NEW Last updated: April 10 2020

Health care providers can diagnose COVID-19 based on your symptoms and laboratory tests. A detailed history of your recent travel or risk of exposure to other cases will also be required.

You may be tested for COVID-19 if you have respiratory symptoms and any of the following apply to you:

  • travel outside Manitoba in the past 14 days*
  • close contact with a confirmed case**
  • health care workers
  • first responders
  • lab workers who have worked with COVID-19 tests
  • individuals who live/work in the north, a remote or isolated community, or congregate setting, such as a correctional facility, shelter, long-term care or residential facility, or a remote work camp

* The following groups are not considered travelers outside of Manitoba

  • workers involved with the commercial transportation of goods and services;
  • workers who live in a neighbouring jurisdiction and travel to Manitoba for work;
  • health care workers who travel to work from outside the province;
  • normal personal travel in border communities

**exposure includes attendance at large group settings where someone has been confirmed to have COVID-19.

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. Individuals who are NOT experiencing signs/symptoms of COVID-19 will NOT be tested. In situations where COVID-19 testing is not recommended, a clearance or exclusion letter will NOT be issued for employees to provide to employers. Should you require a letter outlining why testing for COVID-19 is not occurring, click here.

A health care provider takes a nasopharyngeal swab (a swab of the throat and nose). The sample is then sent to Cadham Provincial Laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

When dealing with COVID-19, screening is done to see if a person who has recently traveled or been exposed to an ill person has symptoms of the illness. 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: May 4, 2020

  • A public health investigation is automatically triggered when someone receives a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 test result. A public health official will contact anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. Public health officials will provide education, collect details on where individuals might have been exposed to the virus and identify close contacts. Public health officials will contact COVID-19 positive persons daily by phone to check on how they are recovering.
  • The person will be advised to self-isolate at home for 14 days from when their symptoms started, and to contact Health Links - Info SantÚ if their symptoms get worse. Individuals who require medical care are treated in hospital. Public health officials will advise the COVID-19 positive person when they can stop self-isolating, which is after the 14 day self-isolate period, provided they no longer have a fever and their other symptoms have improved. The recovered individual will be advised that they can resume all of their normal activities.
  • Public health officials will also notify close contacts of laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Close contacts will be asked to self-isolate and may be tested for COVID-19 if symptoms develop.

NEW Last updated: April 11, 2020

Public health officials receive information about a positive COVID-19 case after a positive lab test. The notifications arrive throughout the day. Once a notification is received, public health officials call the person, inform them they have tested positive and advises them to self-isolate.

They also do an extensive interview to identify their "close contacts." This includes identifying:

  • people who provided care for the person, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact without consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment:
  • people who live with or otherwise had close (within 2 metres), prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case when they were sick; and
  • people who had direct contact with infectious body fluids from the person (e.g., someone who was coughed or sneezed on) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.

Cases are called every day by public health throughout the period of home isolation to monitor their recovery until they are deemed non-infectious.

Individuals who are identified as a close contact to a case will be notified by public health officials as soon as possible. They will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, monitor for onset of symptoms daily including taking their temperature, and are called every day throughout this period to determine whether they have developed symptoms. Contacts who develop symptoms are referred for testing. Asymptomatic contacts are not tested.