What You Need to Know: COVID-19
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The Prime Minister announced the government’s initial support for Canadians and businesses affected by COVID-19, including a $1-billion fund to support provinces and territories in the effort to protect Canadians. The federal government will also waive the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits to assist workers and affected businesses.
Health officials have confirmed 102 cases of the coronavirus in Canada – 41 in Ontario (at least 5 of those have now recovered), 39 in British Columbia, 7 in Quebec and 14 in Alberta. On Monday, the first coronavirus-related death was confirmed in British Columbia, a man from a North Vancouver care home.
So far, the virus has infected nearly 120,000 people in 115 countries and killed more than 4,000 people, mainly in China. More than 60,000 people are said to have recovered.
Health Canada has active travel health notices posted for seven regions now: China, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore and South Korea. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also recommending Canadians avoid “all cruise ship travel” due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
The government has repatriated the 237 Canadians aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, who will be quarantined for two weeks at CFB Trenton.
While we understand that COVID-19 doesn’t respect borders, the government can consider measures to further contain the virus from spreading such as more vigorous screening processes upon entry and mandatory quarantine for those who do enter from high risk countries.
While the government has announced $1 billion in funding to combat coronavirus, we still do not know:
- How the funding will be divided or distributed to provinces and territories?
- How quickly is the government expected to get that money out the door?
- Why the government hasn’t put in place more vigorous screening processes upon entry?
There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time but proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others. Here are some tips:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
when coughing or sneezing:
- cough/sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
- dispose of all tissues as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1-part bleach to 9 parts water):
- door handles
- television remotes
- bedside tables