What is Novel Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain not seen before in humans.

Where did the virus come from?

A new novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

What is the risk of getting sick?

The risk of widespread transmission of 2019-nCoV in Ontario is still quite low.

It’s important to note that a number of respiratory illnesses, including some common coronaviruses, are circulating at this time of year and it is peak flu season.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus infections are common and typically lead to the common cold. Gastrointestinal disease is possible for young infants. Symptoms are usually mild to moderate and can include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell
How is it spread?

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. The 2019 novel coronavirus has evidence of limited human-to-human transmission.

The novel coronavirus can be spread from person to person through:

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Contact with nose and throat secretions (e.g., coughing and sneezing).
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Learn more about transmission in this video from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus infections. Most people with common coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

What if I feel ill?

If you become sick with a cough and fever AND have recently returned from international travel to an affected area, call your health care provider or the Health Unit for further directions.

What do I do if I have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who does?

Be prepared to identify your travel history and/or potential contact history with novel coronavirus so that paramedics and/or the health care provider are appropriately prepared to assist you.

  • Call your local health unit or health care provider if you become sick with a cough and fever AND have returned from Hubei province in China in the past 14 days or have had close contact with an ill person who is either under investigation for novel coronavirus or is a confirmed case.
  • If you have severe respiratory symptoms, call 911 and explain both your travel history and symptoms to arrange swift and safe transport.
How can I protect myself?

Follow the usual steps recommended to reduce your risk of flu and colds:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm.
  • Stay home if you or a family member are ill.
  • Get your flu shot to protect you from the flu.
  • If you are ill and must visit a healthcare provider, call ahead or tell them right away when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness and wear a mask while waiting to be seen.
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care homes if you are sick.
What is the best way to wash my hands?

Washing our hands properly and regularly can remove the germs that make us sick. We need to wash our hands many times through the day: before eating meals/snacks, before and after preparing food, after going to the washroom, after touching an animal, and after handling garbage.

Wash your hands with clean, running water and soap. If soap and water is not available, or our hands aren’t visibly dirty, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Should I wear a mask?

The use of masks to prevent viral infections is not currently recommended. If a person is sick with a respiratory illness, they may be asked to wear a mask while waiting to see a health care provider. This is to prevent them from spreading the virus to others.

Masks sold in stores will not typically protect a person from becoming ill. These masks may help protect people from allergens or air pollutants, but they do not fit tightly enough around the edges to protect against respiratory viruses. The best defence against becoming ill is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Will the flu shot protect me from the coronavirus?

No, the viruses are very different and distinct. The annual influenza vaccine will not provide any protection against coronavirus (though it is highly recommended to prevent influenza, a serious infectious disease in its own right).

What is public health doing?

The HKPR District Health Unit is following the lead of the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada in responding to the novel coronavirus. HKPR is working with local hospitals who have put measures in place to screen individuals who are suspected of being infected by the novel coronavirus. Please read signs and follow all instructions when visiting a hospital.

The Ministry of Health has added novel coronavirus as a designated disease reportable under Ontario’s public health legislation. Now, physicians, hospitals and other care facilities will be required to report a suspected or confirmed case of the novel coronavirus to their local medical officer of health.

If a suspected or confirmed case of novel coronavirus were to be identified in our area, HKPR District Health Unit would work with the Ministry, Public Health Ontario Laboratory, and local hospitals in the management of the case and any contacts.

How many cases do we have locally?

As of January 31, there are no cases in the HKPR District Health Unit area. Visit the Ministry of Health for the most up-to-date information on the status of cases in Ontario. This site is updated every day at 10:30 am.