COVID-19 Information

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has turned families, communities and whole countries upside down. Here’s some very basic information on what it is and what it does and what you can do to help keep everyone safe.

There are some reliable sources of information in the For More Information item at the end of these tips.


Coronavirus? COVID-19? What’s the difference?
Coronavirus is a VIRUS. More precisely, it’s a family of viruses that cause everything from the common cold to various kinds of flu to deadly illnesses like the SARS outbreak of 2003 and more recently MERS. The coronavirus we’re dealing with right now is technically called SARS-CoV-2. You’ve heard it called a “novel coronavirus”. “Novel” here means “new”, not “curious” or “interesting”.

COVID-19 is a DISEASE that’s caused by this particular coronavirus. It’s a respiratory disease, meaning it attacks the lungs. There’s currently no vaccine and no cure for it (it’s “novel”, remember?). You have no natural immunity to it,for the same reason. Your body will attempt to fight it off and in many cases it will be successful. But if you’re older or have underlying health issues, you may need to be hospitalised, perhaps in intensive care and even on a ventilator when your lungs can no longer breathe.

Why is COVID-19 so dangerous?

COVID-19 can kill you. Read that again.
COVID-19 is easily spread from person to person by physical contact, coughing or sneezing. You can become infected by exposure to those coughs or sneezes or even by shaking hands.

COVID-19 can also live on surfaces like metal, plastic and wood for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Touching contaminated surfaces contaminates your hands. Fortunately, frequent and thorough handwashing with soap will kill the virus on your hands.

COVID-19 is very slow to affect you. You can have been exposed and infected for up to 14 days before you show any symptoms. But you can still be contagious – that is, you can infect others – without even knowing it.


What does COVID-19 do?

There is no vaccine and no cure for COVID-19 yet. Its effects vary among individuals, ranging from none at all to mild flu-like symptoms to difficulty breathing and pneumonia. Serious cases can require hospitalisation and life-support measures and may still, sadly, result in death.

Seniors are most at risk for severe complications. People with conditions like breathing disorders (asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, etc.) and whose immune systems have been compromised (diabetes, immunosuppressing medications etc.) are at high risk.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It affects your ability to breathe. This can deprive your other organs of needed oxygen and cause them to fail. Liver, kidneys, heart and muscles can all shut down.

What can I do?

There are three things you can do NOW.

Self-isolate. Stay home; no coffee klatsches, back deck barbeques, visiting friends and family, birthday parties, Sunday dinners, going to choir practices or even church.

Wash your hands. It’s easy. Do it often and do it right.

Social distance yourself. If you absolutely must go out – and there are times you can and should – stay two metres away from everyone else. Imagine trying to hit them with an outstretched hockey stick. If you can, you’re too close.

Can I go out at all?

If you are quarantined – NO. Absolutely NOT.

If you’re self-isolating, as of this writing, yes, you can go out.

  • You can go for a walk – by yourself, with your dog or with people who live in the same household as you.
  • You can go grocery shopping.
  • You can go to doctor appointments.
  • You can keep urgent vet appointments, but call ahead first to see what they may need you to do.
  • You can (but only if you must) take public transit. Buses have seats taped off to enforce physical distancing; respect that.

You MUST ALWAYS maintain a 2-metre distance (an outstretched hockey stick) from everyone around you.

For more information

There’s a lot of unreliable information, false promises and just plain fake news about COVID-19 out there. Here are some reliable links. They will all open in a new window so you won’t lose your place here:

BC Centre for Disease Control

Government of Canada COVID-19 Guidance Documents

Government of Canada Outbreak Updates

Self-Assessment Test (bilingual)

Daily updates from Prime Minister Trudeau are live daily on CBC or CTV or Global TV at 8:00AM (11:00 in Ontario)

Daily updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry (BC Provincial Health Officer) are live daily on CBC or CTV or Global TV at 3:00PM

The Johns Hopkins University Interactive COVID-19 Map updated continuously

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