COVID-19: the basics

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is part of a large family of viruses called the coronavirus, which can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).  The COVID-19 strain of the virus (known as the novel coronavirus) originated in Wuhan, China, and causes a respiratory infection.


How is it transmitted?

Coronaviruses such as COVID-19 are spread mainly from person to person through close contact.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary and include fevers, coughing and difficulty breathing.  The virus can also cause complications that could result in pneumonia, kidney failure, and in some cases death.  The risk of severe disease may be higher for those with a weakened immune system, such as older people or those with chronic diseases. The Government of Canada has launched a COVID-19 self-assessment tool for those who may be unsure of their symptoms.


Is there any treatment?

There is no specific treatment for the virus and there is no vaccine that protects against it.  Most people will recover on their own with lots of rest and plenty of fluids, however, those who need immediate medical attention should call 911.


What is the best way to protect yourself?

– Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
– Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
– Avoid contact with people who are sick
– Stay home if you are sick


What should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?

Anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their local public health unit.

Anyone who has recently travelled to an area affected by the virus is advised to self-isolate and call their public health unit within 24 hours of arriving in Canada. Affected areas include mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.



NOTE: All information provided above was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health


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