Whether a classmate has a cough or COVID, Manitoba's top doc says it is important to treat others with kindness.

The province is anticipating an increase in COVID-19-like symptoms to accompany the flu season. This fall, parents and students will be more intuned to symptoms as the pandemic continues.

"We get to respiratory season every year," Dr. Brent Roussin says. "The symptoms of this are the same as COVID."

The only way to confidently distinguish the difference between COVID-19 and other forms of respiratory viruses is by taking a test. 

As the fall approaches and students begin to see more respiratory virus symptoms, Roussin says that students need to avoid stigmatizing others and instead be kind.

"I think we have to really be able to pass on that message to our kids, to all Manitobans, that we are all living with this virus," Roussin says.

The Chief Provincial Health Officer says that stigmatization could lead to people not getting tested for COVID-19 out of fear.

"Our actions affect other people but no one wants to come down with COVID-19," he says. "Be kind to everyone."

The best way to be kind and protect others, according to Roussin, is to stick to the fundamentals of handwashing and practicing distancing. Roussin says that in Manitoba's first recorded case of COVID-19 in a school, the student did everything the province recommended. Because the student wore a mask and practiced distancing, the Province believes there was a low risk of transmission.

"This virus is here but we are all choosing to live with this virus. We are going to keep things moving here despite the virus, but we have a lot of things we can do to protect ourselves and protect other people around us."