Worldwide concern has risen recently over the developing situation surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (“Coronavirus”). Coronavirus was recently classified by the World Health Organization as a risk to locations beyond it’s origin, and that may require a coordinated international response to control. We’ve seen this starting to happen with quarantines, and the response to travelers returning from abroad where they may have been exposed to the virus.

It’s important to make sure your staff (and/or contractors operating on your premises) is aware of the symptoms of the virus, has helpful instructions and support to reduce the risk of transmission.

If the classification changes again, further instruction will need to be provided, but for now, we hope this guideline will help you navigate the developing situation.

Though it remains most serious in China, and it appears that the most severe cases are contained there, over 18 countries across the world have now reported cases, including 4 confirmed cases in Canada. Following the SARS outbreak in 2003, there are now better processes in place to contain a situation like this, including coordinated and planning efforts at all levels of government.

Above all, we encourage you to monitor updates from the WHO and Canadian Government regarding the status of Coronavirus, and refer to authorities for complete guidelines.

SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR*:

Symptoms range from mild – like the flu and other common respiratory infections – to severe, and can include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing

Complications from the 2019 novel coronavirus can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure, and in some cases, death.

If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold (for example, fever, cough, difficulty breathing) and you have travelled to an affected area within 14 days of symptom onset:

Be sure to mention your symptoms and your travel history, including the countries you visited.

If you need immediate medical attention you should call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF*:

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. The 2019 novel coronavirus has evidence of limited human-to-human transmission.

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus.

There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick

If you are travelling to an area known to have cases of coronavirus, be sure to avoid:

  • high-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets and areas where animals may be slaughtered
  • contact with animals (alive or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks and wild birds
  • surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them

*Information via Ontario Ministry of Health

Additional Resources:

World Health Organization

Public Health Agency Canada

Québec updates on Coronavirus

Ontario’s Ministry of Health

Public Health Ontario

Government of Alberta

Alberta Health Service

Saskatchewan Public Health Information

Health Link British Columbia

British Columbia Centre for Disease Control