Skip to main content Skip to Navigation Skip to Footer

COVID-19: Your Health

Social Circles and Social Gatherings

Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with who you can come in close contact. As of June 12, 2020, Ontarians can establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines. Learn more about how to create a safe social circle (Government of Ontario).

Social circles:

  • Close contact is allowed (e.g., hugs).
  • Must always be the same people.
  • You can belong to only one circle.
  • You should continue to follow public health advice, including frequently washing hands and taking everyday actions to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Social gatherings:

  • Maintain physical distances (2 metres).
  • Can be any group of up to 50 people indoors and up to 100 people outdoors.

Hand Hygiene

Washing your hands:

  1. Wet hands under running water.
  2. Apply liquid soap.
  3. Lather and rub hands for at least 15 seconds. 
  4. Rinse hands. 
  5. Pat dry hands using a towel or paper towel.
  6. Turn taps off with a towel or your sleeve.

Using hand sanitizer:

  1. Place a quarter-size drop of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your palm.
  2. Rub hands together, palm to palm.
  3. Rub back of each hand with palm and fingers of the other hand.
  4. Rub around each thumb.
  5. Rub fingertips of each hand back and forth in the other hand.
  6. Rub until your hands are dry (at least 15 seconds).

Personal Protection Series: Handwashing

This video in the Porcupine Health Unit Personal Protection Series demonstrates how to properly wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

What is Physical Distancing?

Physical distancing is being recommended to decrease transmission of COVID-19. We recommend keeping a 2-metre distance from others outside your household or social circle. COVID-19 is transmitted from person-to-person that are near one another through respiratory droplets. These droplets, typically spread through coughing or sneezing, can go in the mouth or nose of nearby people causing them to become infected with the virus. Practicing physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with.

Physical distancing includes, but is not limited to:

  • Working from home if it is a viable option.
  • Limit non-essential trips in the community.
  • Keeping gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • If you have meetings planned, consider doing them virtually instead of in person.
  • Whenever possible, spend time outside and in settings where people can maintain a 2-metre distance from each other. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering outdoors if physical distancing is a challenge.

See the physical distancing factsheet for more information.

What is Self-Monitoring?

Self-monitoring means to pay attention to your symptoms: watch for fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, sore throat/hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of sense of smell or taste, fatigue, muscle aches, runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nausea or vomiting. Other than that, you can continue with your normal activities. But continue to wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into a tissue or sleeve, and regularly clean frequently touches objects like phones and remotes, as well as kitchen, bathroom and other surfaces.

See the self-monitoring factsheet for more information.

What is Self-Isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible. This also means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons (e.g., health care). Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family, or neighbours with essential errands (e.g. groceries, pick-up medication).

Follow the advice that you have received from your health care provider.

Even if you've have no symptoms in the last 14 days, you need to self-isolate if you:

  • travelled outside of Canada (including the United States)
  • had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19
  • or are not feeling well.


  • Self-isolate until cleared by the Porcupine Health Unit or you health care provider. You do not need to be cleared by the health unit or your health care provider if you are in self-isolation because you were not feeling well.
  • Stay home
    • Do not use public transportation or taxis.
    • Do not go to work, stores, or other public places.
    • Do not go for a walk. Open windows for fresh air, or step outside in a private yard or balcony.
  • Do not have any visitors if possible. Otherwise, limit the number of visitors in your home
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system).
  • Avoid contact with others
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).
  • Keep distance
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket.
  • Wash your hands
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

To download a copy of the instructions, see the self-isolation factsheet.

Household Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.
  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
  • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.
  • Use a diluted bleach solution (1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 cup of water) or household disinfectant.
  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.
  • Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning.


  • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.
  • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste Management

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Taking Care of Someone Who is Ill

If you are caring for or living with someone who has, or who may have, COVID-19, you are considered a close contact and must limit your contact with them as much as possible. The PHU will give you special instructions about how to monitor your own health, whether you should self-isolate, and what to do if you start to feel sick.

  • Wash your hands often
    • Wash your hands with soap and water after each contact with the infected person.
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask and gloves
    • Wear a mask and gloves when you have contact with the person’s saliva or other body fluids (e.g., blood, sweat, vomit, urine and feces).
  • Dispose of gloves and mask after use
    • Take the gloves and mask off right after you provide care and dispose of them.
    • Take off the gloves first and clean your hands with soap and water before taking off your mask.
    • Clean your hands again with soap and water before touching your face or doing anything else.
  • Do not have any visitors if possible. Otherwise, limit the number of visitors in your home
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system).
  • Avoid sharing household items
    • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with the person under investigation.
    • After use, these items should be washed with soap or detergent in warm water. No special soap is needed.
    • Dishwashers and washing machines can be used.
    • Do not share cigarettes.
  • Clean
    • Clean your home with regular household cleaners.
    • Clean regularly touched items such as toilets, sink tap handles, doorknobs and bedside tables daily.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly
    • There is no need to separate the laundry, but you should wear gloves when handling.
    • Clean your hands with soap and water immediately after removing your gloves.
  • Be careful when touching waste
    • All waste can go into regular garbage bins.
    • When emptying wastebaskets, take care to not touch used tissues with your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Clean your hands with soap and water after emptying the wastebasket.

To download a copy of the instructions, see the Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts.