What is COVID-19?

Shared from Alberta website: www.alberta.ca

What is COVID-19 known as coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a new large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans.  These viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there is a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis. There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly.

Officials do not yet know what animal may have cause the current outbreak in Wuhan, China.  Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), is the other coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms.  It was first identified in the Guangdong province in southern China, according to World Heath Organization (WHO), it can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, respiratory distress and kidney failure. Depending on the individual’s age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.

The Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to be more mild than SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and takes longer to develop symptoms.  Individuals to date have typically experienced a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath, causing them to visit the hospital. So far, around 15% to 20% of cases have become severe, requiring, for example, ventilation in the hospital.

The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO). Alberta declared a public health emergency.

Health Canada has also advised that there is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  1. aged 65 and over
  2. with compromised immune systems
  3. with underlying medical conditions

How it spreads?

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When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as droplets in a cough. Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Who is affected?

Viruses can spread from human contact with animals. World Health Organization do not yet know what animal may have caused the current outbreak in Wuhan, China.

When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as droplets in a cough.

Depending on how aggressive the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.  It is recommended that everyone is to wash their hands regularly and avoid hand contact with the face.

There are tests available to be tested to confirm whether you have the coronavirus or not.  You can request a test by taking the COVID-19 self-assessment at this link – SELF ASSESSMENT TEST  If you have the symptoms, for Deaf individuals, please call 1-844-540-5811 or 1-866-408-5465.  Video Relay Services (VRS) cannot call 211 number at this time.

What does a COVID-19 Test look like?

The COVID-19 test Alberta is using is done with a nasopharyngeal swab, which is described as “a long thin Q-Tip that goes into the back of the nose to swab that part in the nose that moves down into the throat.”

The swab is placed into a tube with liquid that ensures the virus stays intact and is then sent to Alberta Precision Laboratories in Edmonton or Calgary.  Once the swab arrives at a lab, the test can take up to 24 hours.

Once the results are available, a staff from Alberta Health Services will notify the individual. If the test is COVID-19 Positive, the health professional will assist and monitor you for 14 days. Upon receiving positive results for COVID- 19 from health professional, the individual must put themselves in isolation for 14 days.

Coronavirus treatment

There is no specific treatment, but research and development of vaccine is underway.  Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early.  If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor immediately. There is no vaccine to protect this family of viruses, at least not yet.

Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication. It is recommended that a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough.  Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and sleep as much as possible.

If you become sick with cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.

You are legally required to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have tested positive for COVID-19. Self-isolation period is for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

If you have tested negative for COVID-19 and have no known exposure to the virus, you are not legally required to isolate. However, it is important to stay home until your symptoms resolve so that you do not infect others.

If you have tested negative for COVID-19 and have known exposure to the virus, you are still legally required to isolate.

How to self-isolate if tested positive for COVID-19?

If you are placed in mandatory isolation:

  • Stay home – do not leave your home or attend work, school, social events or any other public gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact with people in your household, especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • You are prohibited from taking public transportation like buses, taxis or ride-sharing.
  • Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park. This includes children in mandatory isolation.
  • You can get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but you must remain on private property not accessible by others.
  • If you live in an apartment building or highrise, you must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside. If your balcony is private and at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour’s, you may go outside on the balcony.
  • Follow all instructions provided by health care providers.
  • Follow instructions provided by 911 if you require emergency care.

How to get food and supplies while on mandatory isolation?

  • Ask friends or family to drop off food, medicine and other supplies.
  • Use delivery or pick-up services for errands like grocery shopping and/or
  • Contact Calgary Association of the Deaf to make arrangement to provide you with food, supplies and medications.

Do not share household items

  • If you are isolating, don’t share household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
  • After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.

Wash your hands

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

How to prepare for mandatory isolation

Create a household action plan – Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan.

  • Discuss with household members, other relatives, and friends what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community and what the needs of each person will be.
  • Plan ways to care for those at greater risk of serious complications, such as ensuring you have sufficient medication, and determining what supplies are needed and if they can be delivered.
  • Talk with your neighbours about emergency planning.
  • Create a list of local organizations you can contact if you need access to information, health-care services, support or resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list.

Prepare for isolation

  • Choose a room in your home you can use to separate sick household members from healthy ones.
  • Choose a separate bathroom for sick individuals to use, if possible.
  • Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.
  • Have 72 hours’ worth of food and supplies at home. We do not recommend stockpiling goods.

Why isolation is necessary?

Self-isolation means avoiding situations where you could infect other people. It is a good way to help prevent the spread of infections like COVID-19. When you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick. This incubation period is usually 2 to 10 days for COVID-19, but can be up to 14 days. Not everyone who is exposed will get sick, but it is necessary to wait the full 2 weeks to be sure you are not infected.

There is a very small chance you can spread the germs before you feel sick, as many people have very mild symptoms at the start of their sickness. Staying home means that if you do start to feel sick, it won’t happen while you are in a public place, which lowers the chance the virus could spread to others.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Calgary Association of the Deaf at 587-216-2378 or VRS 587-885-1756 or by email at cadeaf1935@gmail.com.