To check the current coronavirus measures and travel guidelines for your country, click here.
At this point, it goes without saying that coronavirus has shaken up all of our day-to-day lives.
So far the virus has spread across six continents, and it seems inevitable the threat will increase across Canada, the UK, the US and Australia over the coming weeks.
With events constantly changing, we’ve put together this handy FAQ to bring you some help, tips and perspective. You don’t need to panic, and for the moment, life should continue as normal (even if it does mean slightly more Netflix than usual). But it won’t hurt to stay clued up on the official advice, as detailed below.
Think you’re coming down with something? Concerned about your sniffling colleague? Worried you’ll have to cancel your holiday plans? Stay up to date with our guide to the latest coronavirus guidance and developments.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that started in animals and is now being transmitted between humans. The symptoms include coughs, fever, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. First identified in Wuhan, China, the virus has (as of March 11) affected more than 119,000 people in 120 countries. Some 4,300 have died, while just over half have already recovered.
How bad is coronavirus?
Unlike flu, there is no vaccine (yet), and recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. In severe cases the virus may cause pneumonia and/or organ failure.
Compared to SARS (another coronavirus that hit headlines in 2003), the mortality rate of COVID-19 is low: around 3.4 percent according to the latest World Health Organisation estimate. This is, however, significantly higher than regular seasonal flu, which is fatal in around 0.1 percent of cases. So far, COVID-19 also appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu.
The elderly and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are most likely to develop a severe illness relating to COVID-19. The death rate is ten times higher among the very elderly compared with the middle-aged, according to the WHO. Children are less likely to be affected.
Which countries have been worst hit by coronavirus?
Although the majority of cases (just under 70 percent) have been in China, there have also been serious outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran. Italy has recorded more than 10,000 cases, Iran more than 8,000 and South Korea just over 7,500.
To put things in perspective: As of April 7, there have been 16,667 cases in Canada (8580 of which are confirmed in Quebec). You can keep track of the spread of the disease on this map created by Johns Hopkins University. The WHO advises against travelling to areas experiencing ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
Generally, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you have travelled from any of the following places in the last fortnight:
– Hubei province in China
– Special care zones in South Korea
Those who’ve travelled from the following areas should also self-isolate if they develop symptoms:
– Hong Kong
– South Korea
To check the current COVID-19 measures and travel guidelines for your country, click here.
How will coronavirus affect my day-to-day life?
First: don’t panic.
The spread of the virus outside China wasn’t unexpected, and governments have been making plans and issuing advice.
If you’re in Canada (and Quebec, specifically)
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risks associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada, but this could change rapidly. Stay home if you are sick and encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms. Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Here in Quebec specifically, anyone concerned that they may have contracted the virus must call 1 877 644 4545.
If you’re in the UK
The NHS says most people should continue to go to work and school. You should only stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if advised to by the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or a doctor, or if you have travelled to any of the places above. As of March 12, the government says anyone with a high temperature or new continuous cough should also stay at home for seven days as a precaution.
If you’re in the US
The CDC advises calling a medical professional if you develop symptoms and are aware you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, or have recently travelled to one of the above areas. Those with a cough or high temperature should also avoid work and stay at home. More than 30 states have now closed all schools to help slow the spread of the virus.
The public health body also recommends rescheduling gatherings (such as concerts, weddings and sporting events) with more than 50 attendees. In New York and Los Angeles, officials have ordered bars, clubs, theatres and restaurants to close.
If you’re in Australia
The Department of Health says most Australians should continue going to work and school. However, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of last seeing someone known to have the virus, or of returning to Australia, you should stay at home and ring a doctor. Call 000 if you display serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing.
When it comes to personal hygiene, the WHO recommends regularly washing hands with soap; carrying and using alcohol-based hand sanitiser; refraining from touching your nose and mouth; and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Should I avoid travelling because of coronavirus?
The Canadian government advises that “all travellers should be aware that there are health risks when you travel. It is important to check your destination before you leave to know the risks and to be prepared.” Above all, for now, they recommend you avoid all travel on cruise ships and read travel advice and advisories to keep up on international developments and to follow the instructions of local authorities if you’re travelling to an affected destination.
The FCO in the UK advises against all travel to Hubei province, and all but essential travel to China as a whole. It also warns against all but essential travel to Italy and Spain, as well as all travel to Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan in South Korea. All but essential travel to Iran must also be avoided.
The CDC also warns American travellers against all but essential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and ‘most of Europe’. From March 13, all travellers from the 26 countries that make up Europe’s Schengen area will be barred from visiting the US for 30 days. This includes France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The ban was extended to include the UK and Ireland from March 16.
The Australian Government advises against all travel to China and Iran, and says travellers should reconsider any travel to Italy, Spain, and Cheongdo and Daegu in South Korea.