With viruses like COVID-19, influenza, and RSV co-circulating in Ontario this fall, the Grey Bruce Health Unit is reminding people that staying home when sick is key to slowing down community transmission of all infectious diseases.
“Regardless of what you are sick with, you should stay home until you are fever-free and feeling better for 24 hours if you’re experiencing respiratory symptoms or for 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms,” explained Dr. Rim Zayed, Physician Consultant at the Grey Bruce Health Unit.
Last week, Public Health advised residents to take measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as all key local indicators – including the number of outbreaks in long-term care – suggest the rate of transmission of the virus is trending upward in the area.
The fall flu season is also in full swing in Grey-Bruce after getting off to an early start, with the first confirmed local case being reported in late September.
In the fall and winter, many respiratory viruses are likely circulating in the community.
Some symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and headache, may also be features of other non-COVID-19 respiratory infections.
To prevent community transmission of infectious diseases, all individuals with new symptom(s) of any infectious illness should stay home when they’re feeling sick.
For people with COVID-19 symptoms who are not eligible for PCR and molecular testing, a single negative rapid antigen test does not rule out a COVID-19 infection. If two consecutive rapid antigen tests, separated by at least 24 to 48 hours, are both negative, the symptomatic individual is less likely to have a COVID-19 infection, but this does not mean they do not have COVID-19 or another infectious illness.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza continues to be one of the most effective way to protect against the most serious effects of these viruses.
People are also advised to practise hand hygiene and wear a mask, and practise physical distancing, when possible, in crowded indoor spaces or while visiting loved ones in long-term care, retirement homes, or other congregate care settings.
A schedule of local COVID-19 vaccine clinics and information on the flu and influenza vaccine are available at publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.