Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) In January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of pneumonia originating in Wuhan, China. The situation is rapidly evolving and Public Health Ontario, along with the Ministry of Health, is closely monitoring the outbreak, conducting surveillance and appropriate laboratory testing, and providing public health and infection control guidance. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to cause respiratory illness in humans, particularly during the fall and winter months. Other novel coronaviruses have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).
Who is at risk?
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. The public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available. The risk to Canadian travelers abroad is generally low but will vary depending on the destination. The Public Health Agency of Canada is closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in other countries. Please consult the destination page on travel.gc.ca for the latest travel advice. It is important for all travelers to monitor their health when they return to Canada. While abroad, you may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus. PHAC asks that you monitor your health for fever, cough, and difficulty breathing for 14 days after you arrive in Canada. If you have these symptoms, call the public health authority in the province or territory you are in to inform them. They will provide advice on what you should do. The risk of more severe illness may be higher for individuals with weakened immune systems such as older people or chronic diseases such as diabetes, or heart, renal or chronic lung disease.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:
• fever • cough • difficulty breathing
Many of these symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza. Should you experience these symptoms AND have recently traveled internationally to an affected region, avoid contact with others and follow-up with your health care professional. In advance of attending a clinic advise them of your symptoms and travel history.
What can I do to protect myself?
Continue to practice good hand washing techniques and hygiene practices. As is the usual best practice, we encourage students and staff to:
• Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when needed • Cough or sneeze into your elbow • If you sick with a cold or the flu stay home
Should teachers or staff come to school if they have flu-like symptoms?
No one should be excluded or banned from attending classes or work. Students, staff, and faculty with flu-like symptoms should stay home. At this time, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.
Travelers returning from other affected areas should monitor for symptoms. Those who develop symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or any other symptoms within 14 days after returning to Canada, are advised to contact your health-care provider or local health authority. Inform them about your symptoms and travel history.
You may also want to purchase the following items to keep on hand as a precautionary measure given the fact it is the flu seasons:
• Over-the-counter medication to reduce aches and fever (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen) • Cough medicine and throat lozenges • Any prescription medicines you take • A thermometer (non-mercury) • Tissues • Hand sanitizer (should contain at least 60% alcohol) • Disinfecting wipes or cleaning products to clean your shared and personal space • A water canteen or bottled water, and juice
What if I am concerned with someone that is exhibiting symptoms at the school?
If you are concerned about someone in the workplace who is ill and exhibiting flu-like symptoms or have concerns about safety in your workplace, speak to your Manager if you are staff and Staff member (Teacher or Student Services) if you are a student. Managers are advised to contact the HR Office. Employees who are ill with flu-like symptoms should advise their Manager, stay home and seek out medical advice accordingly
What if I’ve recently traveled or plan to travel?
If you are planning to travel, please consult the Government of Canada website for travel advice and advisories related to COVID-19. You should be aware that some countries have entry and exit restrictions.
Students who are planning to travel outside of Canada are encouraged to:
Consult with your travel agency or service provider in order to determine if there are any restrictions or limitations. You may also wish to inquire into travel cancellation or re-booking.
Let Student Services at ILAC know you will be traveling, your dates and location.
What does self-isolation mean?
Self-isolation means staying at home. Do not use public transportation, taxis, or rideshares, attend work, school or other public places. Contact with others should be limited as much as possible.
Credit: Canadians Tourism College