Novel Coronavirus infection: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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About the virus

1. What is novel coronavirus (2019-nCov)?

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) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Some transmit easily from person to person while others do not. The 2019-nCoV is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans.

China determined that a novel coronavirus (referred to as 2019-nCoV) is responsible for the outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan. Authorities in China and worldwide are conducting further investigations to better understand where the disease came from, how it is spread and the clinical severity of illness in humans.

2. What are the symptoms?

Those who are infected with 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of 2019-nCoV because they are similar to a cold or flu.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Symptoms have included:

In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

3. What are the risks of getting coronavirus?

The public health risk associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection in Wuhan, China, is low for Canada and for Canadian travellers.

Canada has no direct flights from Wuhan and the volume of travellers arriving indirectly from Wuhan is low. However, at this time, the Government of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid non-essential travel to China due to an outbreak of 2019-nCoV.

Canada also recommends that Canadians avoid all travel to the province of Hubei, including the cities of:

This recommendation is due to the heavy travel restrictions by Chinese authorities to prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV.

At this time, it is unclear how easily this virus spreads from person to person.

Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

4. Is there a vaccine to protect against this virus?

No, there is currently no vaccine to protect against 2019 novel coronavirus infection.

5. Will this year’s flu vaccine protect me from this virus?

No, the flu vaccine does not protect against coronaviruses.

6. What is the treatment for coronavirus?

For now, there is no specific treatments for most people with coronavirus infection. Most people with common coronavirus illness will recover on their own. At this time, there is no vaccine for coronavirus. Your health care provider may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if:

The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances are for recovery.

7. How does coronavirus spread?

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

8. What is the incubation period of the virus?

Current information indicates that symptoms may present themselves up to 14 days after exposure to the virus

9. How can I protect myself from getting this virus?

You can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:

10. Should the general population in Canada wear masks to protect themselves from this virus?

If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not necessary.

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of an illness that spreads through the air, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the infection to others. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading around you when you cough or sneeze. Your health provider may recommend you wear a mask while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures that put in place so that people with an infectious respiratory illness do not transmit the infection to others.

If you are caring for a sick person or you are in direct contact with an ill person, wearing a mask can help protect you from catching the virus, but it will not fully eliminate the risk of illness.
When wearing a mask, make sure to:

It is not recommended that healthy people or people who have not travelled to a 2019-nCoV affected area (e.g. Hubei Province and mainland China) wear masks. Wearing a mask when you are not ill and are not at high risk for developing symptoms may give a false sense of security. Masks can easily become contaminated and need to be changed frequently and fitted properly for them to provide adequate protection.

You can stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:

11. Are Canadians at risk for contracting a novel coronavirus infection if they receive a package or products shipped from China?

There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages coming from affected regions in China.

Although there is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and how it spreads, we can use the information from two other coronaviruses (SARS and MERS) to guide us.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is considered to be a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.

Studies on the SARS coronavirus showed that the virus did not survive on dry surfaces such as paper. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread by respiratory droplets.

Currently there is no evidence to support the transmission of 2019-nCoV associated with imported goods.

There have not been any cases of 2019-nCoV in Canada associated with imported goods from China.

12. Where can I find the most up-to-date information about this coronavirus?

For the latest and most up-to-date information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s webpage on the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).  You can also follow Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Twitter at @CPHO_Canada.

Canadians travelling abroad are encouraged to consult the Travel Health Notice for China on travel.gc.ca.

13. Can the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) be transmitted when a person is not showing symptoms?

This question is under investigation at this time. Studies to answer this question are being conducted now.

While experts believe that spread from a person who is asymptomatic (not showing any symptoms) is possible, this is considered to be rare.

What we do know for certain is that the virus is most often being spread through close contact with a person who is showing symptoms (symptomatic cases).

So based on the latest available data, the main driver of the 2019-nCoV outbreak is symptomatic cases.

That means the primary focus for containing the novel coronavirus outbreak is to prevent exposure through direct and close contact.

The most effective way to control this type of spread is through good hygiene measures in community settings (handwashing, cough etiquette and staying home if sick) and strict infection prevention and control measures in health settings to prevent spread in hospital settings.

14. Is there a risk of contracting a novel coronavirus infection if I touch a surface that was potentially contaminated?

In general, coronaviruses have poor survivability on surfaces, and are generally thought to be spread by respiratory droplets left behind after someone coughs or sneezes.

For the novel coronavirus, researchers are actively investigating to learn more about the ways that the novel coronavirus is transmitted.

In the meantime, the best way to prevent respiratory and other illnesses is to:

Travellers

15. I am planning travel to China, what is the current advice?

The Government of Canada is continuing to recommend that Canadians avoid non-essential travel to China and avoid all travel to Hubei province.

Canadians travelling abroad are encouraged to consult the Travel Health Notice for China on travel.gc.ca for more information.

Always consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.

When travelling to places near Hubei province, China:

16. I am a returning traveler from the Hubei province in China, what do I need to do?

If you have travelled to Hubei province in the last 14 days, limit your contact with others for a total of 14 days from the date that you left Hubei. This means self-isolate and stay at home. In addition, contact the local public health authority in your province or territory within 24 hours of arriving in Canada.

All travellers from mainland China are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms and to contact the local public health authority in their province or territory if they feel sick.

Even if you have not been to mainland China, should a fever, cough, difficulty breathing or any other symptom arise within 14 days after returning to Canada, seek medical attention immediately. Inform your health care provider or local health authority about symptoms and travel history.

During your return to Canada

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus before you are scheduled to leave, do not get on board any form of public transportation. Seek medical attention.

If you experience symptoms of 2019-nCoV during a flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who will assess your symptoms.

If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to a source of 2019-nCoV, report this information to a Canada border services agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada border services agent will provide instructions for you to follow.

We have put messaging on arrivals screens at international airports that will help guide travellers who have travelled to the province of Hubei, China. The screens tell travellers to inform a border services officer if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

In addition, pamphlets with additional information on what symptoms to identify and how to contact local health authorities will be provided to travellers.

During the 14 days after your return

If you develop symptoms of 2019-nCoV, call your appropriate public health authority immediately.

Describe your symptoms and document your travel history. Your health care professional or health authority will provide instructions for you to follow, including appropriate arrangements for your medical assessment.

If you are not already isolated, self-quarantine yourself in your home. Help reduce the spread of the virus.

17. Why are travelers returning from Hubei being asked to limit contact with others for 14 days following their arrival in Canada?

As we receive the latest data and science on novel coronavirus, health authorities across Canada are recommending that travellers who have been in Hubei limit their social contact for a total of 14 days from the date they left Hubei province.  In addition, contact the local public health authority in your province or territory within 24 hours of arriving in Canada.

This supports the global public health objective to contain the outbreak in China and prevent further spread to Canada.

18. I have winter travel plans (not to Asia); how can I reduce my risk of infection?

No matter where Canadians plan to travel, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that they consult travel.gc.ca, which is the Government of Canada’s official source of destination‑specific travel information. It provides important advice to help travellers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad.

Canadians should always tell their health care providers about their travel if they become ill after returning to Canada.

19. I am a Canadian travelling abroad and I am experiencing symptoms. What should I do?

Many Canadians become ill and require medical assistance when they are outside Canada. If you get sick when you are travelling, here’s how to get help:

Find out more on what to do if you experience sickness or an injury while travelling abroad.

20. The Travel Health Notice says it is a Level 3. What does that mean?

A Level 3 signifies that it is recommended that Canadian travellers avoid non-essential travel in order to protect the health of Canadian travellers and the Canadian public.

The notice outlines specific precautions to take when visiting the region and what to do if you become ill during or after travel.

A notice at this level is often issued during a large-scale outbreak in a large geographic area, or if there is increased risk to the traveller and an increased risk of spreading disease to other groups including the Canadian public.

Learn more about the different risk levels associated with travel health notices.

Government of Canada actions

21. What actions are being taken at Canadian airports and borders to stop the virus from entering Canada?

New measures have been implemented at the 10 Canadian airports. Measures help to:

Any travellers coming to Canada who may have been in the province of Hubei would typically enter Canada through 1 of 3 international airports: Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal.

Travellers going through these airports will see additional signage in French, English and Simplified Chinese, asking them to alert a border services officer should they have any flu-like symptoms.

Travellers will need to respond to a screening question that has been added to electronic kiosks for all international travellers at these airports. This question is available in 15 different languages.

Travellers who do not show signs or symptoms of illness will receive a handout advising them to follow up with their health care provider and provide:

These measures complement routine traveller screening procedures already in place to prepare for, detect and respond to the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada.

22. In which ten airports have the additional screening measures been implemented?

Additional screening measures were put in place at the Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal international airports on January 22, 2020. As of February 1, 2020, the additional measures are also in place at the following airports:

23. Will Canada close its borders or start banning flight from China?

No. The Government of Canada and the provinces and territories have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in Canada.

We are also aware that China has taken extraordinary measures including conducting exit screenings, and have closed all the flights and transportation from Wuhan and some other affected cities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been engaged and is actively monitoring the situation. With the information currently available for the novel coronavirus, WHO advises that measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented, without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic.

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