Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks
On this page
- How coronavirus spreads
- Preventing coronavirus
- Risks of getting coronavirus
- Recommendations for travellers
How coronavirus spreads
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against human coronavirus infection.
If you have travelled to Hubei province, China, in the last 14 days, limit your contact with others for 14 days from the date that you left Hubei. This means self-isolate and stay at home. Contact the local public health authority in your province or territory within 24 hours of arriving in Canada.
The following steps will help to reduce contact with others:
- stay home (self-isolate)
- avoid individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults
- avoid having visitors to your home
- wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds
- cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing and sneezing
In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- stay home if you are sick
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs
- immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
People travelling to the province of Hubei should take precautions.
Health care or humanitarian workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus should use standard infection prevention and control precautions. This includes wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
Risks of getting coronavirus
The public health risk associated with COVID-19 for Canada is low and generally low for Canadian travellers, but will vary depending on the destination.
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 COVID-19.
Canada also recommends that Canadians avoid all travel to the province of Hubei due to very strict travel and movement restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.
Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.
Recommendations for travellers
Always consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
- wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- it is a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel
- eat and drink safely abroad by staying away from raw or undercooked food and meat
- avoid high-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets and areas where animals may be slaughtered
- avoid close contact with people who may be sick, especially if they have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing
- avoid contact with animals (alive or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks and wild birds, and items contaminated with their body fluids
Visit the travel advice and advisories page for the most up-to-date information on the risk of coronavirus in your travel destination. This information will help you:
- be aware of the local situation
- follow local public health advice
In some areas, access to health care may be affected.
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