Your guide to COVID-19 and its impact on life in Canada

Travel restrictions, school and event cancellations are being announced every day. And phrases like “self-isolation” and “social distancing” have now entered the collective lexicon.

It’s certainly difficult to keep track of all the latest developments of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC News has compiled a roundup of stories, explainers and videos on a wide range of topics to keep you up to date on the latest information about the coronavirus.

Latest guidance for Canadians on travel, quarantines and what to do if you have symptoms

With a deluge of news about cancelled events, together with conflicting information about what to do — or not do, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is causing confusion, uncertainty and worry among many Canadians. 

Experts answer questions about travel plans, symptoms and living with someone with COVID-19. Read more here.

WATCH | Coronavirus: How you can avoid catching it

By now, you likely know not to touch your face. But if you do suspect you’ve already caught it, reach out by phone for assistance, says family physician Dr. Peter Lin. 1:02

Do I have COVID-19, the flu or a cold?

Public health officials believe the rate of COVID-19 cases in Canada is going to get worse before things start to get better. If you feel sick, when should you get tested? 

Some basic facts about the virus, its symptoms, prevention and what to do if you believe you are infected. Read more here.

WATCH | Coronavirus: What are the symptoms?

It starts out looking like a regular flu. But when the virus attacks lung cells, shortness of breath ensues, says family physician Dr. Peter Lin. 0:27

What’s the difference between quarantine and self isolation?

There are a lot of different terms floating around out there for ways to keep yourself healthy. Canadians should take different precautions based on their level of risk, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Here are the basics:

  • Isolation is recommended for a symptomatic individual who is suspected of having, or known to have, COVID-19. They are directed by PHA to isolate themselves at home and avoid contact with others until the Public Health Agency has advised that they are no longer considered contagious.
  • Voluntary home quarantine (also known as “self-isolation”) is recommended for an asymptomatic person, when they have a high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 (through close contact with a symptomatic person or their body fluids). They are asked to self-isolate at home and avoid contact with others.
  • Mandatory quarantine is the imposed separation or restriction of movement of individuals, groups or communities for a defined period of time and in a location determined by the Public Health Agency. An individual in mandatory quarantine is asymptomatic but may have been exposed to the virus causing COVID-19. 

What products are actually helpful?

As people hunker down at home, products are flying off the shelves — everything from disinfectant to toilet paper. But what should you actually spend your money on?

If you’re buying hand sanitizer, make sure it’s at least 60 per cent alcohol. The old-fashioned habit of washing with soap and water does a good job, too. 

A person wearing a face mask stands on Swanston Street after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 29. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

If you’re sick, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of germs to others. But a mask won’t necessarily protect you from catching the coronavirus. Read more here.

Travel plans

Travelling to Canada, or have tickets to leave? Ottawa has issued a travel advisory urging Canadians outside the country to come back as soon as they can.

Others are wondering what will happen to their outbound travel plans and whether medical or cancellation coverage insurance will still apply. Read more here.

WATCH | What we actually know about the coronavirus

Information about the coronavirus outbreak is spreading fast, but what do we actually know about the illness? CBC News medical contributor and family physician Dr. Peter Lin breaks down the facts about what it is, where it came from, how it spreads and what you can do to protect yourself. 5:10

How to self-isolate during coronavirus

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, more Canadians are being asked to to self-isolate at home for a two-week period  if they are symptomatic, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are returning from an area that’s experiencing an outbreak, or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the illness. What does that mean? Read more here.

WATCH | Coronavirus: How is it treated?

There’s no vaccine, so doctors are offering “supportive treatments” instead, says family physician Dr. Peter Lin. 0:50

Why health experts advise cancelling cruises

The current generation of cruise ships, and the combination of close quarters, poor hygiene and passenger mix can function like a Petri dish, creating the perfect environment for the spread of a plague, say health experts. Read more here.

WATCH | Coronavirus: Where did it come from?

It started with animal to human transmission. But the novel coronavirus is now spreading between people. 0:25

How should I explain what’s happening to my kids?

Explaining the coronavirus to children without upsetting them is a dilemma. Youth psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Mitchell, with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said it’s important to validate fears held by children, to listen to them and to be sure to speak to them at the age-appropriate level. If they have asked questions, answer them honestly, and don’t share any more information beyond what they asked. Read more advice here.

CBC Kids has published an informative video about social distancing just for them. Find it here.

Should pets be quarantined?

A dog in Hong Kong originally tested positive for the coronavirus, but later tested negative. The dog in question is still in quarantine and further tests are pending.

Experts say that while dogs can be carriers of the virus, there’s no indication they can spread it to humans. Read more here

WATCH | Coronavirus: How does it spread?

You play a role in how effectively the virus moves from person to person, says family physician Dr. Peter Lin. 0:48

What you need to know as an employer or employee about COVID-19

If symptoms should strike, what obligations does your employer have toward you and what rights do you have as a worker? Are employers under obligation to keep paying you, even if you cannot report to work? Read more here.

WATCH | Can coronavirus be spread by people with no symptoms?

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine claimed a woman who wasn’t showing symptoms triggered a chain of coronavirus infections. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains how the report got it wrong. 3:25

Is the coronavirus ravaging your investment portfolio? Here’s what you need to know

Investment portfolios have taken a beating as stock markets plummet over concerns of the virus’s impact on the economy. Should people hold on to their investments? Read more here.

WATCH | Tips on how to fly germ-free

Flying during the coronavirus outbreak? Microbiologist Keith Warriner breaks down the steps you can take to protect yourself while travelling. 2:34

Why doctors say we need to cast a wider net for COVID-19 in Canada

Canada’s first case of coronavirus not linked to travel suggests we need to expand our surveillance systems to prevent a spike in new cases, infectious disease experts say. Read more here.

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