COVID-19 – What you need to know

What is it, what are the symptoms, how do you protect yourself...

What are Coronaviruses (Covid-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.

Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not.

Your risk of severe disease may be higher if you have a weakened immune system. This may be the case for:

  • older people
  • people with chronic disease (for example, diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease)

Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe. The most common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • runny nose

Complications from the 2019 novel coronavirus can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure, and in some cases, death.

There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, and there is no vaccine that protects against coronaviruses.

Most people with common human coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own.

You should:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19

  • Anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) should return home and self-isolate immediately.
  • People who are self-isolating should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either by calling their primary care provider’s office or Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000. If you need additional assessment, your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario will direct you to in-person care options.
  • Click here to take a self-assessment.

If you need immediate medical attention you should call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.

How to protect yourself

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre.

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses.

Everyday actions

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick
Covid 19 Barrie hands washing
Health officials recommend you wash your hands for 20 seconds at least

Social distancing

Everyone in Ontario should be practicing social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people.

Everyone in Ontario should do their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. Close contact includes being within two (2) meters of another person.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, you should begin to self-monitor for a period of 14 days. This means that, in addition to social distancing, you should track how you feel. You should take your temperature daily and log any other symptoms that develop (for example, sore throat, new cough). You can share these records with your primary care provider over the phone if you seek assessment services.

Returning from travel

Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada should:

  • self-isolate for 14 days when they return. People who are self-isolating should not go to work
  • monitor themselves for symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus for 14 days after returning to Canada
  • contact their primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at  1-866-797-0000 if they experience symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus

In addition:

  • Workers who have travelled and are part of workplaces that are essential to daily living are able to return to work as long as they do not have symptoms. However, they should self-monitor for a period of 14 days and identify themselves to their employer so that a plan can be put into place to ensure the protection of those workplaces.
  • Children under the age of 16 years who have travelled outside of Canada should also self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Parents should actively monitor their children’s symptoms. Children who are self-isolating should stay at home and avoid social gathering points such as community centres or parks.

The Province of Ontario has a dedicated website with information about current COVID-19 cases, updated daily.