WATCH — This coronavirus-themed Instagram Live got all the hearts

Published 2020-03-31 13:30

Expert says coronavirus has one unique symptom

Has all the talk about coronavirus got you confused?

If so, don’t fret.

Our own Saara Chaudry went live on Instagram last week with Cathy Egan, professor of Environmental Public Health at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ont., to clear up some of your burning questions.

Saara asked questions that were submitted by kids ahead of time, and she asked a few more that viewers brought up during the live broadcast.

Both Saara and Egan will be back again live on Instagram next Wednesday, April 8, at 3:30 p.m. ET to touch base as coronavirus updates continue to come in.

If you have a question about coronavirus, you can email us at and it may be answered on next week’s livestream. 

Watch the full video below or continue reading to get straight to the highlights.

How long will this really last?

Egan said that physical distancing will likely go on for months, and that the coronavirus may end up circulating forever, like the flu.

But that’s not the end of the world.

“That doesn’t mean it will be as intense as it is now, because once people get infected and recover they will be immune, and if we can develop a vaccine for it, and we think that might happen in about 18 months … then we might be able to prevent some cases with the vaccine," Egan said.

Is it true that kids aren’t at a huge risk? If we’re not, should we still be careful?

Most cases in children are either “very, very mild or they don’t even show symptoms,” said Egan, which is good news.

A photo shows two people outside a window of a retirement home. They are communicating with an elderly woman from a safe distance, through a closed window on a telephone.

People have been taking extra precautions to avoid contact at places like retirement homes, where coronavirus poses a greater risk. (Submitted by Krista Beeler)

However, Egan cautions that there is still a big risk of passing on the virus to elderly and immunocompromised people, which is why it’s important that everyone practise physical distancing, including kids.

"Immunocompromised" refers to people with lifelong medical conditions that weaken their immune systems and make fighting off viruses like coronavirus more difficult.

What are symptoms of the coronavirus?

Egan said that a runny nose, a cough and diarrhea are some of the standard symptoms linked to COVID-19.

Interestingly, she said that there is one very unique symptom that the virus presents.

“Some people are saying they lost their sense of smell and that’s the only symptom they’ve ever had. That’s a new thing that we’ve not really recognized with any other viruses that have been circulating,” she said.

How long does the virus live on a surface?

Egan said that although experts aren’t certain, it “probably doesn’t live for very long. It probably could live for two to three days.”

Two teens are shown holding their cellphones.

Egan recommended disinfecting commonly touched and shared surfaces, such as your phone, TV remote, keyboard and doorknobs. (Shutterstock)

However, this depends on a number of factors, including the type of surface and how much mucus, spit, or phlegm is on it.

Other highlights

Don’t forget to tune into Saara’s next chat with Egan on Wed. April 8, at 3:30 p.m. ET on Instagram Live.

Check out these videos for more information on the coronavirus:

CORRECTION: The confirmed date for Saara's next Instagram live with a coronavirus expert is Wednesday, April 8, at 3:30 p.m. ET. An earlier version of this story said the event was planned for 8 p.m. ET.

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