What we know so far about the coronavirus
Symptoms, prevention, masks and more
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus an emergency of "international concern" on Jan. 30, after it was first reported from Wuhan, China, late last year. Canadian officials stress that the risk of contracting the virus in this country remains low. But Canadians are worried and want information about the disease.
Here are the latest developments:
- China on Wednesday reported another drop in the number of new cases of the viral infection and 97 more deaths, pushing the total dead past 1,100.
- The illness has a new name: COVID-19.
- Despite the official end of the extended Lunar New Year holiday, many businesses in China remain closed.
- Japan's health ministry has confirmed 174 cases aboard Carnival Corp.'s Diamond Princess, which is docked in Yokohama.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They cause a range of illness, including the common cold, pneumonia, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and COVID-19, the illness at the centre of the current outbreak.
The group responsible for classifying and naming viruses has tentatively called the virus 2019-nCoV— not to be confused with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
WATCH | A short video answering many of the main questions:
The initial symptoms are mainly fever, with a few reports of people having difficulty breathing, and chest X-rays showing signs of pneumonia in both lungs.
The WHO says signs of infection can include respiratory complaints, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe respiratory problems, kidney failure and even death.
Low risk for Canadians
Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious disease specialist in Toronto, explains why Canadians don't need to panic. He says this coronavirus is not as contagious as influenza, nor as dangerous as SARS.
What to do if you think you've been exposed
If you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus — for example, if you have travelled to Wuhan or Hubei province and are having symptoms — the Public Health Agency of Canada advises avoiding contact with others and following up with your health-care professional.
This story explains what you should do to avoid spreading the infection to anyone else as you seek medical help.
Preventing the spread
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, coronaviruses are most commonly spread by:
- Coughing or sneezing.
- Close personal contact, such as shaking hands.
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
To prevent infection:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.
CBC News got access to the high-security lab in Saskatchewan where scientists are working to develop a vaccine.
Where this coronavirus came from
One of the main ways scientists can figure out how to prevent the spread of an infectious disease is to zero in on its animal host and how it jumped from that animal to a person.
According to Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist who teaches medical students about environmental change and human health at the University of Toronto, "if we don't deal with the heart of the problem where these things can emerge, it could easily happen again."
It has become too common for misinformation to spread on social media, which in turn causes fear and panic. It's happening with the coronavirus outbreak.
WATCH | Tips to protect yourself from getting — and spreading — false information about the coronavirus:
Should you wear a mask?
The short answer is — it depends.
Are you sick? Wear a mask.
Are you trying to keep from getting sick? A mask probably won't help.
WATCH | The full explanation:
Travel to China
The Canadian government is warning against all travel to the coronavirus-affected region of China.
Air Canada is among the airlines that have suspended flights to parts of China.
What about Canadians in China?
A second Canadian flight repatriating people from Hubei province landed this week at CFB Trenton.
The first Canadian charter flight carried out 174 Canadians and their family members, who are now undergoing a two-week quarantine at the military base in Trenton, Ont.