As the coronavirus known as COVID-19 spreads in Canada, the sheer volume of information and misinformation about it can make it difficult to know exactly what is going on, and what to if you think you or someone near you could have the virus.
So Maclean’s has compiled information about the current situation in Canada, symptoms of COVID-19, who is most vulnerable to the virus, as well as self-isolation and notification details for each province and territory. We combed through the official coronavirus webpages of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as of the World Health Organization (WHO), which published a preliminary report on the outbreak in China. Sources are noted throughout.
As each province and territory has its own health terminology—Telehealth Ontario vs. Health Link 811 in Alberta, for example—much of the wording is taken directly from their sites to avoid confusion.
An important note: this information is frequently revised and updated by authorities. This post, too, is being updated regularly, but we urge readers to click on the links, especially the official sites, for the latest.
Also, wash your hands with soap. Often.
To skip directly to information and instructions for your home province on this post, follow the applicable link below:
According to a World Health Organization report from the end of February on COVID-19 in China, symptoms in confirmed cases included:
The WHO report on COVID-19 in China found that:
As of March 11, the Public Health Agency of Canada assessed the public health risk as LOW for the general population. But there is increased risk of more severe outcomes for those:
- heart, renal or chronic lung disease (Ont.)
Those warnings follow the findings of that February WHO report on COVID-19 in China. According to the research team, the age difference among those affected was stark: 21.9 per cent of those over 80 years died, while just 2.4 per cent of all reported cases were children aged 18 and under (only 0.2 percent of those became critically ill).
As well, while 1.4 percent of COVID-19 patients with no other underlying conditions died, those with other conditions experienced much higher death rates:
In more severe cases, public health authorities believe infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death (Sask). Yet, unlike the nature of influenza, pregnant women do not appear to be at a higher risk for the severe form of COVID-19, according to the WHO report.
Contact a care provider in your area to get tested (province-by-province contact information below). Staff in some jurisdictions, especially large cities, may direct you to special assessment centres set up for COVID-19 testing. There are some basic caveats to observe, though, before and after you get tested, as the B.C. site explains:
The health-care professionals will need to know: a) your symptoms b) where you have been travelling or living c) if you had direct contact with animals, for example, if you visited a live animal market d) if you had close contact with a sick person, especially if they had a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
As of March 18 at 9:30 a.m., there were 569 cases so far in Canada: B.C. (186), Alberta (97), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (8), Ontario (189), Quebec (74), New Brunswick (2), Nova Scotia (1), Prince Edward Island (1) and repatriated travellers (9), per the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC):
(The above statistics are based on detailed data of 211 cases)
Official site here.
Getting advice: The Public Health Agency of Canada has an information line about COVID-19 at 1-833-784-4397. It has interpretation services available in multiple languages.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada. recommends:
The Government of Canada is advising travellers arriving in Canada from any international destination, via airport or land port of entry, to self-isolate for 14 days after your return.
Specific information regarding self-isolation and reporting varies by province, so here are the breakdowns, using the wording from their own websites. Please note that new information is causing their risk assessments to be re-evaluated.
Official site for HealthLink BC here and BC Centre for Disease Control here.
COVID-19 self-assessment tool here
Getting help: a) The province has created a dedicated phone service to provide British Columbians non-medical information about COVID-19. This includes the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments. British Columbians can reach service representatives seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1 888 COVID19. Information is available in more than 110 languages. b) contact your primary care provider, local public health office, or call 811 anytime to talk to a nurse at HealthLinkBC.
On Tuesday, March 17, the provincial health officer declared a public health emergency.
If you start having symptoms of COVID-19, you need to begin self-isolation:
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