COVID-19 is a new illness caused by a coronavirus. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold. However, so far COVID-19 cases have demonstrated a higher mortality rate and are more contagious than the flu.
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from very mild to serious, such as:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. It is thought to mainly spread when a person inhales respiratory droplets produced by an infected person’s coughs or sneezes. Self-isolation is the safest way to prevent the spread of the disease. The following guidelines explain the best way to avoid and deal with the virus.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID-19:
Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. With patience and cooperation, we will be able to break the chain of transmission of this disease.
This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:
- Avoiding non-essential gatherings
- Avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
- Avoiding crowded places such as concerts, arenas, conferences and festivals
- Limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
- Keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others
Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- When coughing or sneezing:
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
- door handles
- bedside tables
- television remotes
for individuals experiencing symptoms or feeling sick
If you are experience symptoms or are feeling sick, the guidelines outlined below are recommended:
- Staying at home and self-isolating (unless directed to seek medical care)
- If you must leave your home, wear a mask or cover your mouth and nose with tissues, and maintain a 2-metre distance from others
- Avoiding individuals in hospitals and long-term care centres, especially older adults and those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems
- Avoiding having visitors to your home
- Covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing and sneezing
- Having supplies delivered to your home instead of running errands
- supplies should be dropped off outside to ensure a 2-metre distance
You should self-monitor if you:
- Have no symptoms and
- May have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or
- You are in close contact with older adults or people who are medically vulnerable or
- You have been asked to do so by the local public health authority
Self-monitoring means to:
- Monitor yourself for symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing
- Avoid crowded places and increase your personal space from others when possible
The primary focus in Canada is on containment to delay the onset of community spread by rapidly identifying cases, meticulously finding close contacts, and using tried and true public health measures such as isolation and social distancing, says PHAC. In the event of community transmission, these actions will continue as long as feasible to interrupt chains of transmission in the community and to delay and reduce an outbreak where possible.
In order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, everyone has a role to play. It takes more than governments and action from the health sector to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Everyone can help Canada be prepared in the event of an emergency by understanding how coronavirus spreads and how to prevent illness.
Aside from Canada, many other countries and regions are reporting cases. Check the latest Canadian travel health notices before travelling.
For more information from PHAC, visit this link.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regards COVID-19 as a risk to public health. Older people and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions – such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes – seem to be at especially higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. Currently COVID-19 has spread across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands, and there are several states where community spread is accelerating.
For more information from the CDC about COVID-19, visit this link.