What is a “Coronavirus”?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and the current global health emergency; Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)).

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a sometimes severe, respiratory disease (sickness) that can result from the exposure to a previously unknown coronavirus now named Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

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The origin of 2019-nCoV is not yet known though, it is suspected to have come from an animal as most coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. For example, MERS-CoV is known to be transmitted form camels and SARS-CoV is known to be transmitted from civet cats.

Though not factually correct, the general public, media and government organizations may be using the terms COVID-19 and Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) interchangeably to refer to this health situation.

How is it Transmitted?

The exact dynamics of how the Novel Coronavirus is transmitted has yet to be determined though in general, respiratory viruses are usually transmitted through droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through something that has been contaminated with the virus like a door knob, light switch or other surfaces the virus may be on.

What are COVID-19 Symptoms?

From what is known so far, there are symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In mild cases, observed symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, symptoms may include pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

I Think I May Be Infected?

COVID-19 is diagnosed by a test called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). This test identifies the virus based on it’s unique genetic fingerprint. Testing and diagnosis can only be completed by a licensed medical professional.

If you suspect you have COVID-19, PLEASE do not go to the hospital or clinic and risk exposing others. In Ottawa, you can visit a COVID-19 Assessment Centre or contact your local Public Health Unit. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.

What Steps Can I Take to Protect Myself and My Family?

While there are currently no specific treatment options or immunizations for COVID-2019, the 2019-nCoV and COVID-19 situation is constantly changing. Please contact your local Public Health Unit, Ontario Health Agency or Health Canada for prevention recommendations in your community.

Please visit our Viral Decontamination page for more information.