The 2019 Coronavirus was identified in December 2019 originating in Wuhan, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Coronavirus usually originates in animals and usually spread from animals to humans or person to person if there is close contact for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. However, in some cases the human coronavirus may not spread through person to person contact.
The virus can cause varying degrees of respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath. So far, in the case of the 2019 Coronavirus, conditions like pneumonia, kidney failure or even death are included as well. People with weakened immune system are at risk which includes older people, young children or people with chronic diseases (such as diabetes, cancer, lung, heart or renal disease).
The most important element of this situation is that it is an evolving situation. World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an outbreak for the 2019-Coronavirus however, more information on the virus, methods of spread and possible cases is still being updated. As of right now, the risk in Canada is low if appropriate prevention strategies are followed. Regular updates by the Provincial government and Public Health Ontario are provided which are great resources to stay updated on status of confirmed cases or spread of virus in Canada.
The key to ensuring yours and your loved ones safety is to be aware of the appropriate prevention strategies and always try to get information from reputable sources. As of today, there is limited information on the person to person spread of the virus and also, there is no update on availability of any vaccine. Despite that, there are very simple prevention steps that can be followed to keep yourself safe. Prevention strategies include:
- Regularly washing hands with soap and water
- Following proper sneeze and cough etiquette (into the sleeve)
- Do not touch face, eyes or mouth without washing hands
- Keep distance from people who are sick with respiratory illness symptoms
- Do not leave home if you are sick yourself with any respiratory-illness like symptoms
Since there is no treatment available yet for this strain of Coronavirus, the best way to protect yourself is by following prevention strategies and building your immune system. Stay hydrated and boost your immune system by getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet with essential vitamins such as Vitamin C.
In case you are experiencing symptoms which are worse than the usual cold, please contact your local public health unit or Telehealth Ontario at 1-800-797-0000.
NOTE: Wearing a mask if you are ill may prevent you from transmitting the virus to others. Healthcare workers must wear a respirator when providing care to suspected or confirmed cases, but it may not provide high level of protection if the respirator has not been properly fit tested and/or is not of the appropriate protection level.
If you have questions about infection control or how to protect yourself, please refer to PSHSA Infection control webpage for resources.
Additionally, if you are looking for training on how to become a respirator fit tester or are looking for fit testing services or have questions about health & safety, please contact your local consultant.
If you are an employer or in the healthcare sector, PSHSA also has a new Infectious Disease Threats Risk Assessment Tool which can be used by Acute Care Organizations to conduct a risk assessment.
The Ministry of Health has released a summary sheet which can be used reference to receive information on the virus and how to stay protected.