2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses can cause illness in people and others can cause illness in animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person-to-person through close contact.
What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Novel coronaviruses are new strains of coronaviruses that have not been previously identified in humans. A novel coronavirus has emerged in Wuhan, China which is called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.
Signs and Symptoms
In general, human coronaviruses commonly cause mild but occasionally more severe respiratory infections. It is estimated that they cause about 15% of common colds. Coronaviruses can also cause more severe illness, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Muscle aches and tiredness
- Difficulty breathing
- Less commonly: sore throat, headache and diarrhea have been reported. Older patients and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness.
Diagnosis and Testing
In general, coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on signs, symptoms, and laboratory tests. Travel history is also important. There is a specific test for COVID-19 to confirm the infection if it is suspected.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People ill with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. People with more severe illness may require hospitalization.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Prevention measures include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
- Stay home when you are ill.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and clean your hands.
- If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaner.
- Prior to travelling, check the Public Health Agency of Canada – Travel Advice and Advisories website (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories) for up-to-date travel information.
Advice for people who have recently returned from affected areas OR have had close contact with a person ill with COVID-19
Those who have recently travelled from Hubei Province, China (including Wuhan City) or Iran OR have had close contact with a person ill with COVID-19 are asked to self-isolate (see self-isolation below) for a total of 14 days after last exposure (i.e., last day in affected area or last contact with a person ill with COVID-19). Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 within 24 hours of arriving in Canada. Contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your local public health unit or your primary care provider if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19. Tell your health care provider about your symptoms and travel history before your visit to allow them to prepare for your visit and protect other patients.
Those who have recently travelled from areas under a travel health advisory for COVID-19 other than Hubei Province or Iran (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/travel-health-notices) are asked to watch for signs and symptoms which may develop up to 14 days after an exposure (i.e., last date of travel). If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate (see self-isolation below) and contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your local public health unit or your primary care provider's office. Tell your health care provider about your symptoms and travel history before your visit to allow them to prepare for your visit and protect other patients.
Persons diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are suspected of having COVID-19 should STAY HOME and avoid close contact with others, including those in their home. Specifically, DO NOT attend child care, school or work. AVOID public spaces, contact with others, taking public transit; and refrain from having visitors.
Public Health's Role
All suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reportable to local health authorities under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Toronto Public Health is following-up on all suspect or confirmed COVID-19 cases and their contacts; and is working collaboratively with provincial and national health agencies; as well as local partners including hospitals, local airports, and community agencies; to contain spread and lessen the impact of the virus. At this time the virus is not circulating locally, however given the global circumstances, we are actively working with our City and health partners to plan for the potential of local spread.
COVID-19 is spread person-to-person through large respiratory droplets (e.g., coughing, sneezing) that can travel up to two metres. It may also be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. COVID-19 is an emerging disease and there is more to learn about how it spreads.
- For more information, contact Toronto Public Health: 416-338-7600.
- Ontario Ministry of Health. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Situation Summary. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
- City of Toronto. Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/
- Public Health Ontario. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).