About

In December 2019, a new virus from the coronavirus family, initially called 2019-nCoV was detected in the city of Wuhan in China after an outbreak of atypical pneumonia was identified in the city. This virus is now called SARS-CoV-2. The disease associated with this virus is COVID-19.

The first sick people to be linked to the outbreak developed their symptoms following exposure at a seafood and live animal market in the city. The exact source of exposure in the market remains unknown. The market was closed down on January 1, 2020. Since then, person-to-person transmission has been confirmed and the virus has been found in many countries around the world.

COVID-19 is a new disease that had not been identified before the outbreak reported in December 2019. The infection often causes mild illness, but sometimes causes severe illness in some people; more specifically, people with a weakened immune system or a chronic disease. In rare cases, infection can lead to death.

So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Québec. For the situation in Canada, go to the Current situation This hyperlink will open in a new window. section on the Government of Canada’s site.

Level of risk

The overall risk remains low in Canada.

However, for travellers to China, the public health risk is considered high.

About coronaviruses

SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the coronavirus family. Some viruses in this family cause disease in animals, while others cause disease in humans. In rare cases, coronaviruses that infect animals can also infect people. Even more rarely, they can be spread between people through close contact. In addition to SARS-CoV-2, two other coronaviruses are transmitted from animals to humans and have caused serious diseases in humans, namely, SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV since 2012.

Symptoms

The main symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

The symptoms can be mild (similar to a cold) or more severe (similar to those associated with pneumonia and respiratory or kidney failure). In rare cases, infection can lead to death. People most at risk of complications are those with a weakened immune system or a chronic disease and older people.

Warning for travellers returning from China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan)

If you develop these symptoms within 14 days of leaving China, stay home and call Info-Santé 811. A nurse will assess your health and make recommendations based on your situation. If you have to go to a health care facility, it is important to mention your recent travel before going so that the necessary preventive measures can be taken.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the COVID-19. Supportive treatment can, however, be provided.

Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own.

Modes of transmission

Modes of transmission of human coronaviruses

Investigations are ongoing concerning COVID-19. The information in the next two paragraphs is about human coronaviruses. It probably applies to COVID-19.

Coronaviruses usually cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. In most cases, they are spread by:

  • close contact with an infected person when the person coughs or sneezes;
  • touching infected surfaces with your hands and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

In general, coronaviruses do not survive for long on objects:

  • around 3 hours on inert objects with dry surfaces,
  • 6 days on inert objects with wet surfaces.

Prevention

Recognized hygiene measures are recommended for everyone:

  • Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette:
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.

If you are worried or anxious about the coronavirus, you can contact the Info-Social 811 psychosocial telephone consultation service. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Information for travellers

Level of risk

The risk to Canadian travellers This hyperlink will open in a new window. to China is considered high.

Recommendations

The PHAC recommends that travellers avoid all non-essential travel This hyperlink will open in a new window. to China and avoid all travel to Hubei province.

The cities in Hubei province are as follows:

  • Anlu
  • Danjiangkou
  • Ezhou
  • Guangshui
  • Huanggang
  • Huangshi
  • Jiangjiafan
  • Jingling
  • Macheng
  • Puqi
  • Shashi
  • Shiyan
  • Wuhan
  • Xiangyang
  • Xiantao
  • Xiaoganzhan
  • Xiaoxita
  • Xiulin
  • Yidu
  • Yunxian Chengguanzhen

Source: Simplemaps – Interactive Maps & Data 2010-2019 This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Health precautions for travellers to China

The PHAC recommends that travellers who go to China despite the recommendations take the following precautions against respiratory diseases and other communicable diseases This hyperlink will open in a new window. while travelling and to see a doctor if they become sick.

  • See a doctor if you develop a fever, respiratory symptoms while travelling or after your return.
  • Avoid going to markets, farms or other places where live animals are sold.
  • Avoid contact with live or dead animals.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products.
  • Avoid touching surfaces that might be contaminated with animal droppings and secretions.
  • Avoid spending time in large crowds or crowded areas.
  • Avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm if you cough or sneeze. Wear a mask if possible.
  • Dispose of tissues after use

Travellers returning to Canada

Travellers returning to Canada from areas affected by the COVID-19 epidemic should be attentive to messages and instructions being provided at Canadian airports (see Border measures and the warning for travellers returning from China).

Self-isolation

The PHAC is asking travellers arriving from Hubei province in China who do not have symptoms to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after they leave the province.

If you develop symptoms

Residents of Québec who develop symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days of leaving Hubei province or mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao) are asked to call Info-Santé 811. If a consultation is required, it is important to inform the health care facility about your travel history before you go to the facility or when you arrive so that the necessary preventive measures can be taken.

More details about recommendations for travellers This hyperlink will open in a new window. on the Government of Canada’s site.

Border measures

Canada displays messages about the COVID-19 on arrivals screens in airports where people may be returning from China, either directly or after layovers. In addition, passengers who use self-service kiosks must answer specific questions about their health and travel history.

People who have symptoms

People who report symptoms at the airport will be assessed by a quarantine officer. Under the Quarantine Act, the officer is authorized to take appropriate measures if there is a potential public health risk, such as ordering the traveller to be taken to hospital for a medical examination.

People who do not have symptoms

Self-isolation

The PHAC is asking travellers arriving from Hubei province in China who do not have symptoms to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after they leave the province.

For more details, see the information sheet for travellers arriving from Hubei province in China This hyperlink will open in a new window. on the Government of Canada’s site.

Mandatory notification to public health authorities

In addition, within 24 hours of arriving in Canada travellers must call Info-Santé 811 to notify the public health authorities that they have returned from Hubei province.

People arriving from other regions of mainland China

The PHAC is asking for travellers arriving from mainland China to

  • monitor your health, if you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing;
  • avoid crowded public spaces.

If you start having symptoms, call Info-Santé 811.

For more details, see the information sheet for travellers arriving from mainland China This hyperlink will open in a new window. on the Government of Canada’s site.

Passengers from the MS Westerdam cruise ship

For passengers who were on the MS Westerdam arriving in Cambodia on February 14, 2020, PHAC requests to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing), and to avoid crowded public spaces. If you start having symptoms, call Info-Santé 811.

Passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship

For passengers who were on the Diamond Princess, PHAC requires isolation for 14 days upon return to Canada on February 21, 2020. These travelers are isolated in Cornwall, Ontario, under the supervision of PHAC.

The risk will be reassessed as new information becomes available.

Useful links

Government of Canada COVID-19 information line: 1 833-784-4397

Info-Social 811 psychosocial telephone consultation service

Info-Santé 811 telephone consultation service

2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (Wuhan, China): Outbreak update This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Government of Canada

Novel Coronavirus in China: recommendations for travellers This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Government of Canada

Novel Coronavirus infection: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) This hyperlink will open in a new window.
Government of Canada