In December 2019, the World Health Organization was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. The virus responsible for the disease did not match any other known virus. On January 7, 2020, China confirmed that a new virus from the coronavirus family had been identified that was responsible for this new disease called COVID‑19.
For more information, see the Situation of the coronavirus (COVID‑19) in Québec page.
Some viruses in the coronavirus family cause disease in animals, while others cause disease in humans. Coronaviruses that cause disease in humans can be spread by close contact between people. In rare cases, coronaviruses that infect animals can also infect people. Like SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus responsible for COVID‑19, two other coronaviruses are spread from animals to humans and cause or have caused serious disease in humans, namely, SARS‑CoV in 2003 and MERS‑CoV since 2012.
In Québec, there is no evidence to suggest that people are at risk of contracting COVID‑19 from animals or animal products.
Symptoms and treatment
The main symptoms of COVID‑19 are as follows:
- in children: 38°C (100.4°F) and above (rectal temperature),
- in adults: 38°C (100.4°F) and above (oral temperature),
- in older adults: 37.8°C (100°F) and above (oral temperature),
- or 1.1°C above the person's usual value;
- difficulty breathing;
sudden loss of sense of smell and taste without nasal congestion.
The symptoms can be mild and similar to cold symptoms. They can also be more severe, like those associated with pneumonia and respiratory failure.
People most at risk of complications are those:
- with a weak immune system;
- with a chronic disease such as heart, lung and kidney disease;
- age 70 and older.
In rare cases, the disease can lead to death. The risk of death is higher in older adults.
Development of symptoms
Québec residents who develop symptoms (fever, cough, respiratory difficulties or sudden loss of sense of smell and taste without nasal congestion) when they return from a trip outside of Canada must contact 1 877 644‑4545. As needed, the caseworker will tell them what institution to visit for a check-up. If a consultation is required, it is important for residents to inform the health care facility about their travel history before they go to the facility so that the necessary preventive measures can be taken.
Stress, anxiety and depression
In the context of a pandemic, many people will experience stress, anxiety and depression reactions. To help you minimize the repercussions of these kinds of reactions on your life, see the Stress, Anxiety and Depression Associated With the Coronavirus COVID‑19 Diseasev.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Supportive treatment may, however, be provided.
Most people with COVID-19 will recover on their own.
Modes of transmission
The exact mode of transmission of COVID‑19 is unknown at present. However, a person with COVID‑19 is thought to be contagious from the day before their symptoms appear. Studies are ongoing. The information in the following two paragraphs concerns human coronaviruses.
Coronaviruses usually infect the nose, throat and lungs. In most cases, they are spread by droplets from an infected person, when the person coughs or sneezes, for example. They can also be spread by infected hands. This means that you can contract a coronavirus by touching your mouth, nose or eyes after contact with an infected person or surface.
In general, coronaviruses do not survive for long on objects. They can survive for around 3 hours on inert objects with dry surfaces and for around 6 days on inert objects with wet surfaces.
Quebecers who were on certain cruise ships have had contact with potentially contagious people. Due to the risk of transmission associated with cruise travel, cruise passengers are advised to self-isolate for 14 days after their date of arrival in Canada and to monitor themselves for symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing or sudden loss of sense of smell and taste without nasal congestion). If you develop these symptoms, call 1 877 644‑4545.
The list of public places is no longer made available. However, it is recommended that anyone who has visited any public monitor themselves for symptoms and follow health recommendations.
For more information, see the Health recommendations for everyone section.
Information for travellers
Level of risk
An official global advisory to travellers is in force: Avoid non-essential trips outside of Canada until further notice.
Furthermore, travellers are advised to avoid all cruise ship travel due to the ongoing COVID‑19 outbreak.
A risk assessment concerning COVID‑19 will be done as new information becomes available.
Travellers are advised to consult Active travel health notices for COVID‑19, issued by the Government of Canada. These are available on the Coronavirus disease (COVID‑19): Travel advice . It indicates the level of precautions to take depending on the travel destination. These notices also specify the recommendations issued for travellers returning to Canada.
At Canadian airports
Canada displays messages to travellers concerning COVID‑19 on the arrivals boards of ten airports that may receive international flights. In addition, all passengers from countries affected by COVID‑19 receive a leaflet detailing the recommendations to follow. Passengers who go to the automated self-serve kiosks must also answer specific questions about their health status and their travel history.
For more information go to the At Canadian airports section of the Coronavirus disease (COVID‑19): Canada’s response page.
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.
Quarantine is a federal legislative measure that obliges travellers showing signs and symptoms of a transmissible disease, upon arrival in this country to isolate themselves so that they avoid transmitting the disease to other persons in Canada. The purpose of this measure is to avoid the introduction or propagation of transmissible diseases presenting a serious public health hazard.
Isolation consists of asking infected or potentially persons to isolate themselves at home and monitor their symptoms during the incubation period of the virus. These persons must call 1 877 644-4545 if symptoms appear. This measure is usually recommended by the public health authorities and seeks to limit the propagation of a virus to protect the person’s immediate circle and the community.
People who do not have symptoms
Consult the section For citizens returning from travelling on the Instructions and directives page.
Government of Canada COVID‑19 information line: 1 833 784‑4397
Government of Québec COVID‑19 information line: 1 877 644-4545
Publications about COVID-19
Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux
2019 Novel Coronavirus infection (Wuhan, China): Outbreak update
Government of Canada
Novel Coronavirus in China: recommendations for travellers
Government of Canada
Novel Coronavirus infection: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Government of Canada
Last update: March 27, 2020