About

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.

Symptoms and treatment

The main symptoms of COVID‑19 are as follows:

  • fever:
    • 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;
  • a new cough or a cough that gets worse;
  • difficulty breathing;

or

  • sudden loss of sense of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of taste.

Other symptoms may also appear such as sore throat, headache, aching muscles, intense fatigue, severe loss of appetite and diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or more severe like those associated with pneumonia.

Some people can spread the virus without knowing it because they have no symptoms or have not yet developed them. 

People most at risk of dying from complications are those:

  • with a weak immune system;
  • with a chronic disease such as diabetes or heart, lung and kidney disease;
  • age 70 and older.

However, the risk of death is highest for people aged 70 and older.

Development of symptoms

Québec residents who develop symptoms 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. Resident can also assess their symptoms using the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool This hyperlink will open in a new window. on the Government of Canada website.

COVID-19 tests

Québec’s COVID-19 testing strategy takes each region’s specific situation into account. The number of tests available in each region is calculated based on population size but also on the level of community transmission observed there.

Designated screening clinics, designated assessment clinics and mobile clinics have been set up to ensure that people who need a test based on the indications established by public health will be able to get one.

Regions with a higher level of community transmission

People who live in regions or areas where there is a higher level of community transmission who develop symptoms must consult the website of their region’s integrated health and social services centre (centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux – CISSS) or integrated university health and social services centre (centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux – CIUSSS) to find out where to go and how to arrange to get a diagnostic test. They can also call 1 877 644-4545 to be referred, if necessary, to the appropriate resource. 

Montréal

For the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal and CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, consult the Santé Montréal Portal This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Laval

CISSS de Laval This hyperlink will open in a new window.

Montérégie

For the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest, CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre and CISSS de la Montérégie-Est, consult the Santé Montérégie Portal This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only).

Lanaudière

CISSS de Lanaudière This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only)

Laurentides

CISSS des Laurentides This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only)

Other regions of Québec

People who live in other regions of Québec who have COVID-19–like symptoms must call 1 877 644-4545 to be referred, if necessary, to the appropriate resource.

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 Disease.

Treatment

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

COVID‑19 is spread from person to person by contact with droplets projected into the air when a person who is sick talks, coughs or sneezes. It 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. While it can be spread by contaminated objects or surfaces, this is not the main mode of transmission. The virus can also be spread through an infected person’s stool.

The exact mode of transmission of COVID‑19 is unknown at this time. However, a person with COVID‑19 is thought to be contagious from 48 hours before their symptoms appear. Studies are ongoing.

In general, coronaviruses do not survive for long on objects. They can survive on surfaces for a few hours to several days. It mainly depends on the type of surface (for example, copper, cardboard, stainless steel, plastic), the temperature and ambient humidity. According to findings from a recent experiment, the virus might be able to survive up to:

  • 4 hours on copper;
  • 24 hours on cardboard;
  • 48 hours (2 days) on stainless steel;
  • 72 hours (3 days) on plastic.

In Québec, there is no evidence to suggest that people are at risk of contracting COVID‑19 from animals or animal products.

Health recommendations for everyone

Anyone who has visited any public place must monitor their symptoms and follow the health recommendations :

  • Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, especially when you come in from outside.
  • Use alcohol-based disinfectant on your hands 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 sick, avoid contact with more vulnerable people, including people who are 70 years of age or older, people with a weak immune system or a chronic disease.
  • Avoid direct contact when you greet someone, such as shaking hands, and use alternative ways to greet people.
  • As much as possible, stay at least 2 metres (around 6 feet) away from people who do not live in your household. If this is not possible, wear a face covering, especially in public transit, where wearing a face covering will be mandatory for people age 12 and over starting on July 13, 2020.
  • Limit your travel as much as possible.

To find out the gatherings measures and physical distance to follow, consult the Gatherings during the COVID‑19 pandemic page and the Safety measures for workers and children in elementary schools  during COVID-19 page.

For hygienic measures to adopt when you go to the grocery store, see the video Conseils d’hygiène à l’épicerie et pour les fruits et légumes This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French, subtitled in English).

To find out the health measures to follow during a move, consult the document COVID‑19: Good Health Practices to Follow During a Move This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Every individual has their part to play to reduce the risk of spreading viruses. See the Preventing transmission of viruses and bacteria.

If you are worried or anxious about the coronavirus, you can contact the toll-free line 1 877 644-4545. 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 Disease.

Posters showing the 5 main health recommendations This hyperlink will open in a new window. are available in many languages.

Wearing a face covering in public

Wearing a face covering, also known as a homemade mask, will be mandatory on public transit from July 13, 2020 for people age 12 and over. Children under 12 years of age, people whose particular medical condition prevents them from wearing a mask and people who are unable to put on or take off a mask by themselves do not have to wear a face covering on public transit. However, for children between 2 and 12 years of age, wearing a face covering or mask is recommended.

In other public places where physical distancing of 2 metres is not possible, such as at the grocery store or in shops, wearing a face covering is strongly recommended.

When you wear a face covering in public, you must also follow other safety measures, such as hygiene.

If you are sick, stay home. If you have to go to a clinic or to hospital, wear your face covering until you are given a procedure mask.

Children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, has a disability or is unable to remove their face covering without assistance should not wear a face covering.

To learn how to make and use your own face covering, look at the Wearing a face covering in public settings in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic page.