How some of P.E.I.'s newcomers are staying informed about COVID-19

Members of newcomer communities are taking steps to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need on COVID-19, for those whose first language isn't English or French.  

'We want to make sure that that information is out there and is comprehensible by anybody'

Ally Guo from the Chinese Association of P.E.I. says members of the community translate news for those who aren't as fluent in English. (Submitted by Ally Guo)

For a number of residents on P.E.I. whose first language isn't English or French, staying up to date on the latest news surrounding COVID-19 in the province might prove difficult. 

So members of newcomer communities are taking steps to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need. 

The P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada is translating information from federal and provincial governments and putting it online. 

"We want to make sure that that information is out there and is comprehensible by anybody who's able to read it, in whatever language they can read it," said Todd MacEwen, communications director for the association.

The association is working on getting that information up in eight different languages. 

For individuals who don't speak those languages, the association has a team of translators on hand who can help 

"We've got about 95 translators covering almost 100 different languages. So if we're falling through the cracks in one thing or another and people still need access to information … we can certainly find somebody who does speak that language," he said. 

The goal is to keep information flowing in any way they can, serving as many communities as possible. 

"Right now we are working on a Russian translation of some of the information as well," said MacEwen.

And other organizations are also taking steps to make sure their communities stay informed.

Active translation

Members of the Chinese community on P.E.I. are translating the relevant information from the daily briefings and then sharing it. 

"There are a lot of others who … do not know a lot of English. So we are doing translation between the information in the news," said Ally Guo, one of the members of the Chinese community doing the translations.

That information is then shared through the group's social media, a WeChat group and Facebook page. Those platforms have about 4,000 followers, said Guo. 

"We are able to cover most of the Chinese community," she said. 

Those platforms are watched by volunteers to gauge what questions those in the community are asking, and if more explanation is needed, Guo or one of the volunteers will post a longer piece on her media platform, Gigigu. 

"If we feel that it's too complicated and we need explanation, we need an essay or something like that, we will write an essay combining … a lot of information together and post to our audience," she said. 

Guo says volunteers with the website GiGiGu are doing translations and their own original stories as well. (

In addition to translating updates by Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, volunteers at GiGiGu are also working on their own stories of interest to the Chinese community on P.E.I.  

"We are actually trying to provide with information from both the local community, the local news and also the feeling of ourselves," said Guo.

And while all this is important for the community, Guo said she'd like the government to make that information available in Mandarin as well as French and English, if they have the resources available.

"Although we are doing the translation, we do not want to twist the information," said Guo.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.