What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

Mar 17 2020, 6:44 pm

As COVID-19 cases begin to rise throughout Canada, top health officials have highlighted several steps for people who have coronavirus symptoms.

The Government of Canada provides accessible information online to educate individuals on symptoms of the virus, when to self-isolate, and when to get tested.

Health officials say that symptoms are very similar to the flu or respiratory illness, which include a cough, fever, muscle aches, and shortness of breath.

While a symptom for a cold also includes a cough, a cold consists more of a sore throat, runny nose, and congestion, which are not the main symptoms to look out for with coronavirus.

At this time, there is no vaccine for coronavirus or any natural health products that are authorized to treat or protect against the virus.

If you are experiencing symptoms, you are encouraged to:

Stay home

Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own and health care providers can recommend steps to relieve symptoms.

The Government of Canada recommends that those who feel symptoms of coronavirus should stay home to avoid spreading the virus.

Separate yourself from others in your home and restrict contact with pets. Although there are no reports of pets becoming sick with the illness, it is recommended that people with symptoms avoid contact with pets until more information is available.

Visit a health care professional if necessary

While it is recommended to stay home, some cases of coronavirus may be serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor or even the emergency room. Canadians are asked to call ahead or tell a professional upon arrival if they have a respiratory illness, and to call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation.


Canada has a mandatory measure for all people who have travelled abroad to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and to call a health care provider or public health authority if they are experiencing any symptoms.

PHAC also notes that it is important for providers to know if patients have symptoms or some kind of travel history outside of Canada.

Clean “high-touch” surfaces every day

Cleaning high-touch surfaces in your isolation area everyday is of vital importance. One should get in the habit of routinely cleaning these areas.

High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

People should clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them with household cleaners and disinfectants.

It’s also important that someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, but not the patient’s bedroom and bathroom.

Avoid sharing household items

It’s important to note that sharing dishes, drinking glasses, cups, utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home should be prohibited.

Also, after using these items one should wash them thoroughly with soap and water, or put them in the dishwasher.

Practice good hygiene

While it seems self-explanatory, PHAC emphasizes the importance of effective hygiene practices and social distancing.

If anyone is experiencing symptoms, proper hygiene can reduce the risk of infection or spread to others.

Simple practices like washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, using hand sanitizer, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the bend of the arm, avoid touching the face, and cleaning high-touch surfaces are all effective measures.

Distance yourself from others

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, also promotes social distancing in addition to good hygiene practices.

This means, increasing personal physical space by two metres from others, avoiding public gatherings of over 50 people, avoiding peak hours in public settings, and working from home if possible.

In order to flatten the coronavirus pandemic curve, social distancing in public and at home are necessary measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

According to PHAC, coronaviruses are defined as a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and animals.

There are strains of coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans and caused severe illnesses in humans in the past, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

In order to combat the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a telephone meeting with premiers on Friday, during which they discussed the $1 billion COVID 19 response fund. The fund includes support for the province’s health care systems.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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