Is it COVID-19 or another virus?

COVID-19 isn't the only virus circulating throughout the community, as respiratory illnesses that seemed dormant for the past two years make a comeback.

According to Simcoe Muskoka's associate medical officer of health Dr. Colin Lee, seasonal influenza and Rhinovirus, otherwise known as the common cold, appear to be increasing.

"This is probably because during the winter, we have been using the multi-layered protective approach and have stifled colds and flus, and since we've relaxed some of our measures, I think they've found a way to infect others."

The symptoms are so similar to COVID-19 that Dr. Lee says it can be difficult to distinguish.

RAPID TESTS

Dr. Lee says the convenient at-home rapid tests can help ascertain if one has COVID-19, but they aren't always accurate and can come back with a negative result for someone positive.

"If you have COVID-19 symptoms and your test is negative, don't be completely reassured; you may still have it," Lee says. "So what you should probably do is do another rapid test two or three days after, and if that test is still negative, then most likely you don't have COVID."

GATHERING WITH FULLY VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS

While recent data collected by the health unit suggests a downward trend in COVID-19 across Simcoe Muskoka, Dr. Lee still recommends caution.

"Unfortunately, the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective, so there's always a chance your friends may be unknowingly infected."

Dr. Lee notes that while COVID-19 is coming down from a high peak, there is still significant transmission in the community.

The health unit continues to push outdoor gatherings where possible and wearing a face mask when indoors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and any other virus.