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Coronavirus: what it is and how you’re helping fight it


Let me guess, you’re at home. We all know it can be pretty awesome to be at home with your family and pets and toys, but this feels different than a weekend or vacation.

By now you've probably heard a lot of stuff about the coronavirus or COVID-19 from your parents, teachers, on the news, or maybe even on YouTube or from your friends. So let’s go over what we know about what’s going on.

What is the coronavirus?

Do you know what a virus is? Well if you’ve ever had a common cold, which is when you have symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat, then you’ve met (well, technically had) a virus!

The coronavirus is actually more than one virus — it’s a whole bunch of viruses that can make you sick in different ways. One of the ways is the common cold, but these days we’re talking about a new, specific kind.

What the virus looks like

You can remember it’s new because this one is the new coronavirus or novel coronavirus (“novel” means “new”). It’s also known as COVID-19 — that’s what doctors might call it.

What does the virus do?

The new coronavirus makes you sick. It’s kind of like the flu. Some of the symptoms include cough, fever (when your body gets really hot) and some difficulty breathing, and some people will feel more sick than others.

Why am I home if I’m not sick?

Right now, a lot of communities are doing something called physical distancing. People are trying to keep at least two metres apart when they have to go in public. But there are lots of ways to have fun at home! So schedule some time to play with friends on a video call because they’ll be staying in their homes too!

Kids on video chat while at home with text: stay connected while at home!

But being able to spend the day at home is just a bonus because staying home is actually very important work. You are helping doctors, nurses and hospitals by slowing down the number of people getting sick.

This is also why it’s so important to wash your hands, especially if you’ve had to go outside. These actions are all to try and stop the virus from spreading so you don’t get sick and so sick people don’t give other people the virus.

We’re really all being superheroes by staying home and keeping things clean, because it helps the people around us be healthy!

Want all the details on hand washing? Check out the 101 + a handy guide here.

What’s self isolation? What’s isolation?

Self isolation

OK, so while you’re physical distancing, other people may be in self isolation. That’s for people who may have been exposed to the virus (that means they may have been near someone with it) or infected by it (that means they caught it), so they stay alone to make sure not to spread anything around.

Isolation (Quarantine)

Other people may be in isolation (or quarantine). That’s also for people who have the virus or think they do, and are waiting to see if they get sick. They stay home for at least 14 days to keep the people around safe, but it's more of a strict rule that they do.

Why do I keep hearing about travel?

Some people are at a greater risk (that means more likely) to get the virus than others, like those who have traveled on an airplane recently. That's how they may have been exposed to the virus. But don’t worry, they still get to be with all their stuff at home!

Steps to follow to wash your hands

What if I catch it?

If you do get sick with the new coronavirus, the best thing to remember is not to worry. There are doctors and scientists and health-care workers around the world working to help sick people and look for a cure.

Also remember that a lot of people who catch the virus don’t get much sicker than a cold or flu. The main thing they have to do is stay in bed and rest until they are feeling better.

And if you’re still feeling afraid or worried, that’s totally OK. Being afraid or worried when things change is a completely normal feeling, and even adults feel it sometimes.

You may have also heard some stuff on the news you’re not sure about. Talk to an older sibling or grown-up about what you’ve heard and what you’ve been thinking. They’ll help you sort through all that information.

What else can we do?

Stay positive! No, really! That’s a gift you can give yourself and those you love. It’s also important to stay in touch with friends and family by giving them a call on the phone or video chatting on the computer. (And that way you can spread your positivity further!)

Of course, it’s also important to:

  • wash your hands (check out this guide)
  • keep your hands away from your face (especially your eyes, nose and mouth)
  • not get too close to sick people (that’s why we’re physical distancing)
  • cough and sneeze into your sleeve (like a vampire)
  • stay home whether you’re healthy (physical distance or self isolate) or sick (isolate)

“Like a vampire”? Mr. Orlando has all the details (from home!) on the spooky sneeze move.

Don’t forget to keep all your other healthy habits too while you’re at home! Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods, make sure you get enough sleep and get some movement in your day. Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you can’t practice cartwheels in the backyard or get your yoga on in the living room!

And remember: we’re all in this together! We may all be in our own homes, but it’s kind of like if you imagine all the houses and buildings on the streets around you holding hands. That’s what we’re doing by all playing our part.

You’re all at-home healthy heroes and we can’t do this without you!