The purpose of a Self-care Guide
Your home is your primary care centre.
The purpose of this guide is to help you in taking the best decisions for your own health and the health of your close friends and family during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
This guide will enable you to:
- Learn the best ways to protect yourself
- Take care of yourself
- Learn the basic care to provide to your friends and family
- Learn when and who to consult when you require care and services
Keep the guide at hand!
This guide is also available in French at Québec.ca/coronavirus.
How can I stay informed?
Coronavirus updates are available at Québec.ca/coronavirus.
Pay attention to the notices and follow the instructions from the government as relayed by the media (television, newspapers, radio, Internet).
The information provided in this document is based on a situation that evolves rapidly. Changes could possibly occur.
The coronavirus is very easily transmitted!
The COVID-19 pandemic
COVID‑19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus, a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract. It is transmitted from one person to another.
A pandemic occurs when a new virus spreads throughout the world. Since humans are not protected against the new virus, a greater number of people become sick.
Transmission of the virus
The coronavirus (COVID‑19) is very easily transmitted by tiny droplets that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
If the person covers their nose and mouth, the droplets will land in the crook of their elbow or on their upper arm, mask or homemade face covering, handkerchief or facial tissue. We can become infected by the coronavirus (COVID‑19) when:
- Our eyes, nose or mouth is in contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes
- We touch a contaminated object or surface with our hands then touch our face
Symptoms develop on average from 5 to 7 days after contamination, but may appear over a 2 to 12 day period of time. To be prudent, at least 14 days of isolation is recommended (see the “Prevention, Protection and Health Advice”).
Some people with no apparent symptoms or whose symptoms have not yet developed may unknowingly spread the virus.
Coronavirus propagates during close contact between people. Close contact can occur when:
- Someone lives in the same home as an infected person
- Someone provides care to an infected person
- People gather in public places and meetings
Persons at risk
The majority of infected individuals recover without any special treatment.
Some categories of people are at risk of dying from severe respiratory complications of a coronavirus infection, such as pneumonia or acute respiratory syndrome.
The following categories of people infected by the coronavirus (COVID‑19) are at risk of dying:
- People aged 70 or more
- People with the following underlying conditions
- Chronic heart diseases
- Chronic pulmonary diseases
- Cancer and/or weakened or deficient immune systems
Some people with no apparent symptoms or whose symptoms have not yet developed may unknowingly spread the virus.
The manifestations of a coronavirus (COVID‑19) infection can vary from slight to severe.
- Onset or worsening of a cough Fever
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden loss of sense of smell
Severe symptoms (1 case out of 6*)
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
* Based on information that was available when this publication was produced.
Other symptoms may also appear, such as a sore throat, headache, muscular pain, major loss of appetite and diarrhea.
What should I do when I have COVID‑19 symptoms?
- Stay at home and avoid contact with others
- Wash your hands frequently
- Follow good respiratory hygiene practices:
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (elbow, upper arm or disposable paper tissue)
- Call the 1-877-644-4545 coronavirus hotline to be directed to the appropriate resource
- If you have major difficulty breathing, call 911
You can also read the Instructions for people with COVID‑19 symptoms fact sheet, which is available on the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux website.
Prevention, protection and health advice
How to prevent and protect against a coronavirus (COVID‑19) infection
No vaccine for coronavirus (COVID‑19) or medicine to treat the disease, currently exist. Prevention is the only way to protect yourself and protect others.
Always remain 2 meters away from others. Do not hug, shake hands or kiss.
If a close friend or family member shows COVID‑19 symptoms, avoid contact with their personal objects such as glassware, dishes, etc. Ask the person to use hygienic practices when coughing or sneezing and immediately wash their hands. As much as possible, remain at a safe distance from others.
In public settings where it is impossible to keep 2 metres away from others, it is highly recommended to wear a mask or a handmade face covering.
Wash your hands OFTEN
Frequent hand washing is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID‑19). Teach your children and close friends and family the right way to wash their hands.
When should I wash my hands?
As often as possible, but especially:
- Before I touch my face (eyes, mouth, nose)
- After I cough, sneeze or blow my nose
- Before and after I provide care to a close friend or family member
- When my hands are visibly dirty or after I touch a dirty object
- Before and after I prepare meals
- Before and after I eat
- After using the toilet
- Before and after going to a public place
- Before putting on a mask or homemade face covering and after removing it
What do I use to wash my hands?
It is recommended to wash hands with lukewarm water and soap or with at least 60% alcohol-based gel, foam or liquid sanitizer.
Wear a mask or homemade face covering
Wear a mask, handmade face covering or cloth to cover your nose and mouth in the following circumstances:
- You cough or sneeze when someone else is in the room, less than 2 metres away.
- You are coughing or sneezing and need to go out for medical reasons.
- You are in a public setting and physical distancing is impossible, even if you have no symptoms.
Even if you wear a mask or handmade face covering, you should continue to employ protective hygiene and other measures.
Self-isolate for 14 days after returning from a trip abroad and after the onset of symptoms.
Self-isolation can end when the minimum 14‑day period is over and the following is true:
- No fever for at least 48 hours
- No other symptoms for at least 24 hours except for cough and loss of smell, which may continue for a longer time.
You can transmit the virus even if you have no symptoms.
Precautions and care
If you have coronavirus symptoms, feel weak and fatigued, rest will help you fight the disease. Limit your contact with others until you have no more symptoms. You can go back to your normal activities when your state of health allows you to.
If you are followed on a regular basis for a health issue such as cancer, keep all booked appointments. Contact your health professional if you need to consult about a medical issue.
Stay at home if you have one or more symptoms.
Frequent drinking is important because fever causes perspiration and major loss of liquids.
You should drink at least 1.5 litres of liquids every day.
You can drink cold or warm liquids, as you prefer. Avoid alcoholic beverages and liquids like coffee or tea that contain caffeine, as well as soft drinks.
Alcohol and caffeine will cause you to urinate more often and increase loss of liquids.
Watch out for these signs of dehydration:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Infrequent and/or dark urine
- Dizziness, confusion and headaches
Protect your entourage
If you have symptoms:
- Self-isolate in a bedroom to avoid contaminating others
- Sleep and eat meals alone in your bedroom
- Only use one bathroom and clean it after each use
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, ideally with a facial tissue. Wash your hands right after
- If you do not have any facial tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper arm, which are not in contact with people or objects
- Spit into a facial tissue
- Throw away facial tissues into a garbage bag in a trash can with a lid. Keep used tissues away from children
- Do not allow visitors in the house
Continue with these measures for 14 days from the onset of your symptoms and ensure that you have had no fever for at least 48 hours, or other symptoms for at least 24 hours before resuming normal activities except for cough and loss of smell, which can last longer.
Keep your environment clean
Generally speaking, corona virus does not survive very long on objects. It can survive on surfaces from a few hours to several days depending on the type of surface (copper, cardboard, stainless steel, plastic are examples) and the ambient temperature and humidity.
Therefore, it is important that you clean counters, sinks, door handles and all other surfaces frequently touched by hands. Cleaning and disinfecting are very efficient ways of eliminating the virus.
Use soap and water or household cleaners to clean surfaces.
Use a 1/9 bleach-water solution or disinfectants.
For example, this means 10 ml of bleach to 90 ml of water.
If you are sick, your sheets, towels, cloths and dishware can be washed with those of others in the home using normal detergents.
Follow the instructions of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux provided in the media (television, newspapers, radio, Internet) Québec.ca/coronavirus.
While many of us have the necessary resources to deal with a COVID‑19 situation, others may not. If you are concerned, do not hesitate to ask for or accept help. Talk about it with your close family members.
You can also dial 211 for help or ask your local CLSC to connect you with their home care and services resource.
Listen to the radio, watch TV, read the newspaper and/or go to the following government website often: Québec.ca/coronavirus.
The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux will provide instructions for the population on health matters and to obtain care.
Always follow the government’s current notices and instructions, since the situation can change.
Basic information for your kids
- The right way to wash their hands with soap and water
- How to sneeze and wipe their nose with disposable facial tissue
- How to sneeze and cough into their elbow and onto their upper arm
Frequently remind them to stay away from other sick people and those who do not live with you.
Keep the Decision Fact Sheet close at hand. It contains advice on what to do in different symptom situations.
Other help tools are available at Québec.ca/coronavirus.
Organize your work
As much as possible, work from home
If you must go to your place of work:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If that is not an option, use an alcohol-based gel, foam or liquid hand sanitizer
- Clean hard surfaces and objects in your work area that could be touched by your workmates
- Do not shake hands, hug or kiss hello
- Stay home if you are sick or have symptoms. Get informed about your employer’s return to work directives
Medication for relieving symptoms
Use medication intelligently
If you have no complications, coronavirus (COVID‑19) treatment does not require special medication.
Over-the-counter medication can be used to relieve coronavirus (COVID‑19) symptoms. But read the label carefully and only take the recommended dose. If you have a fever, take an acetaminophen cap such as Tylenol®. It is strongly suggested to ask your pharmacist for instructions before taking over-the-counter medication when you have symptoms.
Do not take medications with the same ingredients at the same time, such as Tylenol® and Tylenol Sinus®. Also avoid using nasal decongestants and nasal washes in case of loss of sense of smell.
If you have other health problems, ask your pharmacist for advice or call Info‑Santé 811 before taking over-the-counter medication.
NSAID anti-inflammatories used to alleviate fever that contain ibuprofen, such as Advil® and Motrin® may aggravate coronavirus disease (COVID‑19), but this information comes from clinical observations and has not been confirmed. If you are already taking anti-inflammatories and test positive for coronavirus, speak with your pharmacist, doctor or specialized nurse practitioner.
Fever is one of the body’s defence mechanisms that help fight infection. Acetaminophen is recommended to reduce fever and make you more comfortable unless your health professional advises against it or you are allergic.
Fever is defined as follows:
- Children under the age of 5 years: 38 °C (100.4 °F) and higher (rectal)
- Children over the age of 5 years: 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) and higher (oral)
- Adults: 38 °C (100.4 °F) and more (oral temperature)
- Seniors: 37.8 °C (100 °F) and more (oral temperature)
- 1.1 °C higher than normal
- Gargle with a glass of salt water: 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp.) of salt in 250 ml (1 cup) of lukewarm water (do not swallow)
- Hard candy and/or lozenges, preferably sugar-free, may also relieve a sore throat
If you are sent to be examined by a health professional, be sure to take a complete current list of all your medications.
If medications are prescribed:
- Be sure to follow recommended doses and other instructions
- Reach out to your pharmacist or doctor if a problem arises when taking your meds
- Always keep your medication in a dry location and out of the reach of children
Caring for sick children
Prevention, precaution and care for children are the same as for adults.
See a doctor
See a doctor in the following situations:
- Your child is under the age of three months and has a rectal temperature in excess of 38 °C (100.4 °F), call 1‑877‑644‑4545 or 811 to find out where to consult
- Your child has a chronic disease or has a weakened or deficient immune system and has a rectal temperature in excess of 38 °C (100.4 °F), go to an emergency near you
- Your child seems very sick, is listless and you have trouble waking him up, go to an emergency near you
Give appropriate medication
If your child is older than three months and has rectal fever in excess of 38 °C (100.4 °F), you can administer acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®, etc.) in accordance with the instructions on the label and your child’s weight.
Make your child comfortable
Ensure that the child:
- Is wearing light clothing
- Rests a lot
- Drinks enough and shows no signs of dehydration, especially in case of vomiting and/or diarrhea
Watch for the following signs of dehydration:
- No urination over a six-hour period of time for babies (eight hours for older children)
- Recessed fontanelles (soft spots on the top of babies’ heads)
- Cold skin that does not regain normal shape quickly when pinched
- Irritability, somnolence
If your child shows signs of dehydration, administer as needed rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte®, which is sold in pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
Maintain room temperature at around 20 °C (68 °F).
- Always take your child’s temperature with a thermometer, preferably rectally
- Wait 30 minutes before taking the child’s temperature orally if he or she has eaten something cold or hot
- Do not rub your child with alcohol to lower fever as it may be absorbed by the skin or enter the lungs and can be toxic
- Do not give ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, etc.) to children under the age of six months
- Do not give acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®, etc.) to children or teenagers under the age of 18
- Do not put a mask or handmade face covering on a child who is under the age of 2 years
Seniors are more susceptible to infection and complications due to the normal aging process. They also have a higher risk of dying from COVID‑19.
A coronavirus (COVID‑19) infection can manifest itself in different ways in seniors.
While seniors may have no fever, they may show the following signs of an infection:
- Fast onset loss of autonomy (lower interest in participating in care, preparing meals, etc.)
- Loss of appetite
- Onset of incontinence
- Increased agitation or sluggishness
- Sleep disturbances
Prevention, protection and care
The prevention, protection and care instructions shown in this guide also apply to seniors.
Seniors are at greater risk of the following:
Seniors are at greater risk of dehydration especially because the thirst sensation becomes less acute as we age. Seniors do not always think of drinking because they do not feel thirsty.
- Remind seniors to drink frequently
- Encourage them to take more liquids with meals and medications
- Discourage seniors from drinking alcohol and beverages with caffeine
Seniors need to increase their protein consumption when they have an infection.
Proteins are found in meat, fish, legumes, eggs, milk products and nuts.
Seniors need to have protein-rich snacks in between meals and at bedtime.
Loss of autonomy
Remaining immobile while lying in bed or sitting in a chair for just 24 hours can have a major impact on loss of autonomy and the onset of complications.
As soon as possible, get the person up and moving, dress on his or her own, and perform personal hygiene and other daily activities in accordance with capacity. This will considerably reduce the risk of complications.
Care for people with disabilities
Persons with physical or mental disabilities or who have autism spectre disorder are among the most vulnerable members of society, since they may experience problems relating to mobility, communication, understanding situations or being able to protect themselves. Moreover, their medical and/or behavioural condition means that they have a higher risk of developing complications from COVID‑19 contamination. As such, providing them with acute or intensive care can be more complex.
Preventive measures and care precautions for people who have problems understanding and/or communicating are the same as for adult patients. However, support from parents, family caregivers or other providers of assistance is of primary importance to ensure the successful implementation of preventive measures if they have difficulties.
With this in mind, it is important to plan for communication methods that are adapted to the needs and characteristics of patients and ensure that they understand the current pandemic situation, how to protect themselves, why measures such as home isolation have been implemented and the importance of any eventual screening. Particular attention should be given to care related to tube-fed medication and access to home support when required.
Taking care of the patient
Persons with physical or mental disabilities or who have autism spectre disorder especially risk developing the following problems:
- Bedsores: Vary the position often.
- Loss of autonomy: Get the patient up as soon as they can move around and let them dress and perform personal hygiene tasks on their own, if possible. This also holds for their daily activities as they become capable, because it will considerably lessen the risk of complications.
- Dehydration: Patients who need help with feeding have a higher risk of dehydration. As such, ensuring they drink regularly is very important.
- Lack of organization of patients with behavioural or autism spectre disorders: Make certain that you put in place strategies for minimizing behavioural disorders and facilitating transitions to new daily routines.
Parents and/or family caregivers must also apply contamination prevention measures when using equipment and/or devices that are required to see to the patient’s needs. People who are not capable of removing their mask or face covering should not wear it.
Hygiene and prevention
- Wet hands
- Apply soap
- Rubs for 15-20 seconds
- Scrub nails
- Use paper to shut the tap
Wash hands often, especially:
- When they are visibly dirty
- After sneezing or coughing
- After you blow your nose
- After using the toilet
- After changing a diaper
- Before preparing, touching or serving food
- Before eating
- Before putting in or taking out your contact lenses
Before putting on a mask or homemade face covering and after removing it
- After moving garbage
Wash your hands with soap and water. Antibacterial soap is not required.
If soap and water are not available you can use an alcohol- based gel, foam or liquid sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).
Take a little gel, foam or liquid sanitizer with your fingertips and rub both sides of your hands, fingers and in between your fingers. Continue to rub until your hands are dry without having used paper towels.
Sanitizers must be stored out of reach of young children. They can only be used occasionally and with supervision.
Cough and sneeze without contaminating others.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Throw the tissue in the garbage.
- If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or on your upper arm.
- Wash your hands often. If soap and water are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer.
Masks and homemade face coverings
Wearing a mask or homemade face covering is recommended for everyone in public settings such as grocery stories and on public transit, where physical distancing is not practical. This must be accompanied by other protective measures, such as proper hygiene.
Children under the age of 2 years, people who have breathing problems and who are unable to remove the mask or face covering without help due to a handicap should not wear one.
If you are sick, stay at home. If you need to go to the hospital or a medical clinic, wear a mask or face covering until you are provided with a procedure mask.
If you have no symptoms but need to be in close contact with someone who has a fever or is coughing or sneezing, for example to provide care, you should wear a mask or face covering.
Wash your hands before and after using a mask or face covering. Remove the mask by grasping the elastic or string loops without touching the front of the mask or homemade face covering. Fold up the outside of the mask and place it in a sealable garbage bag. If you wear a homemade face covering, place it in a clean bag. You may wash the face covering with the rest of your laundry after removing it.
A cotton or similar fabric scarf can also be used but you will need to wash it every day.
- Place the mask or face covering on your nose and mouth with one hand. Use your other hand to attach the elastic or string loops of the mask behind your ears..
- Mold the mask or face covering to your nose.
Position the bottom edge of the mask under your chin. Change your mask or face covering whenever it becomes wet, dirty or damaged. Never touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
My Medical Record
You can download a PDF file presenting a model of personal medical record (PDF 129 Kb).
Decision Fact Sheet
If you have COVID‑19 symptoms
Follow the instructions on this poster to help you take the optimal decision for you and your close friends and family. Always use proper hygienic and preventive measures to avoid contamination.
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, onto your upper arm or into a paper facial tissue, not your hands
- Keep your environment clean
Adults and children
I have a fever (Fever ≥ 38 °C (100.4 °F) or ≥ 37.8 °C (100 °F) for seniors) or any of the following symptoms:
- Onset or worsening of cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden loss of sense of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of taste
- Muscular pain
- Major loss of appetite
- Sore throat
I am an elderly person with geriatric symptoms (loss of autonomy, falling, confusion onset, agitation or sluggishness, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, etc.).
Decision for adults at risk of severe respiratory symptoms or adults or an elderly person with geriatric symptoms
Call the 1‑877‑644‑4545 coronavirus hotline, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Opening hours are subject to change.
Adults or children
I have a fever higher than 38 °C/100.4 °F and one or more of the following:
- Persistent and/or increasing difficulty in breathing
- Blue lips
- Difficulty moving
- Fever (baby less than three months of age)
- Somnolence, confusion, disorientation, difficulty staying awake
- No urine for 12 hours
Decision for adults or children
Go to the emergency room immediately.
If help is needed, call 911.
1‑877‑644‑4545 (toll free)
Deaf or hard-of-hearing persons
1‑800‑361‑9596 (toll free)
Important phone numbers
Keep informed. The Québec.ca/coronavirus website has up-to-date news.
Preventing infections: It’s a collective responsibility
- Cough into your sleeve.
- Wash your hands.
- Keep your distance (2 meters).
- Cover your face (if less than 2 meters).
- Limit your travel
Toll free: 1‑877‑644‑4545.
Last update: July 8, 2020