Is COVID over? Here’s what you can do to protect yourself

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I know. It’s confusing. Mask mandates and long quarantines have been lifted, and in-person work as well as gatherings are back on. At the same time, we are seeing reports of case counts going up and new variants of concern like BA.2 in the news. It seems like the threat is still active but at the same time we don’t care. What’s happening?

Is it really over?

According to health officials, Canada is currently in the 6th wave of COVID-19. This means that COVID is showing a resurgence based on indicators such as case counts, wastewater COVID levels, and hospitalizations. Chief Public Health Officer Teresa Tam added that “All across Canada – it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s very likely that Omicron variant, the BA.2 sublineage, is spreading in your community.” (CityNews, April 12, 2022).

While this confirms that COVID-19 is not over yet, the bigger message is to stay vigilant. We should also draw strength from the fact that we now have vaccines and even treatments that can counteract the virus, unlike in early 2020 when the pandemic began.

Staying healthy

If you’re scared about contracting COVID (or you’re like me and you don’t want the two years you spent following health protocols go to waste) here are few things you can do ensure that you and your family will continue to stay safe and healthy:

  1. Continue taking precautions

    We know you’re tired but limiting contact and mask-wearing are still the most effective ways of preventing infection. Avoid indoor gatherings but if you can’t, wearing the right mask and making sure that it fits well is still your best bet. The following infographic shows the different types of masks that are recommended:

    Another good practice is ensuring proper ventilation at home (and possibly your workplace). Turn on ceiling fans to help air circulate (make sure they’re pulling air upwards), consider investing in a HEPA filter especially if you are living with vulnerable individuals, change your furnace filters, turn-on exhaust fans in bathrooms and stovetop when you have house guests, and open windows and screen doors to help fresh air circulate.

    Aside from these precautions, being up- to-date on your vaccines is the single most important thing you can do to increase your immunity against Omicron (and other current and future variants) and reduce the risk of getting hospitalized. Research has shown that patients with antibodies formed through the two vaccinations and booster shot have been extremely successful in keeping BA.2 out of cells. However, they do recommend that the elderly, immunocompromised or those with multiple medical situations avail of the second booster for added protection (see Community Resources below for more information).

  2. Consult your family doctor

    Set an appointment and resume regular check-ups with your family doctor. This is a great way to be proactive and maintain good health. Periodic check-ups can help your doctor identify and treat diseases before they get worse. You should also talk to your doctor to get recommendations to strengthen your immunity and get accurate advice about getting on top of your COVID-19 worries.

  3. Stay informed

    COVID information changes rapidly. Know the latest COVID developments by tuning into reliable sources. Go to Manitoba COVID-19 Information to know the Provincial guidelines and COVID-19: Outbreak Update for Canada-wide statistics.

    You can also get news from GlobalNews (Coronavirus in Manitoba), CBC Manitoba, and CTV Manitoba.

If you or a family member is experiencing some flu symptoms but you’re not sure if it’s COVID and don’t know what to do next, read Think you have COVID? Here’s how to be sure.

Sources: Canada is in 6th wave of COVID, says country’s top doctor, Cormac Mac Sweeney, Denise Wong, and The Canadian Press, CityNews (April 12, 2022); How to protect yourself during the 6th wave in Canada, Global News; and Tips to keep yourself safe from Omicron, WSPS. Accessed April 13, 2022.

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Community Resources

Going back to the office? Get more guidance on workplace safety practices at COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine (or second booster) is now available for the following groups:

  • residents of personal care homes and elderly people living in congregate living sites (such as supportive housing and assisted living) with no age limit;
  • people aged 70 and older living in the community; and
  • First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50 or older, regardless of where they live.

More information about the second booster may be found here: COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility criteria.

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