March 2, 2020 Toronto, ON
Many members have reached out regarding COVID-19 and the global concern around the virus. Members have asked questions about masks, refusing service to people exhibiting signs of illness, etc. From the questions, it is clear people are getting poor or misinformation from various sources, so we have put together this primer for all members.
COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus 2019, or 2019_nCoV)), is a respiratory illness caused by a strain of coronavirus, and appears to have transmission modes similar to influenza. Ill persons can spread the virus through water droplets from sneezes, coughs, and direct contact. Healthy persons can contract the virus when these water droplets come in contact with someone’s mouth, nose, or eyes.
Since the start of the outbreak, there have been 88,948 cases of infection globally, with 80,170 of those cases being in China. There are 65 countries that have reported cases, with more than 130 countries not reporting any COVID-19 infections at all. Nearly every Canadian case has been classified as “imported cases” with a couple classified as “local transmission.” The local transmission cases have been close family members sharing a living situation. There have been no cases in Canada, including recent cases in York Region and Toronto, that involve “Community Transmission.” The risk to the general public for contracting this virus through regular daily interaction is still low. The virus is not spreading in Canada currently. Neither persons travelling to Canada on planes for hours with infected individuals, nor Canadians working in travel industries (airport personnel, flight crews, public transportation operators, etc) have contracted the virus, despite dramatically increased odds compared to the general public.
To reduce your risk of contracting the virus (and many others), it is advised by the WHO, the Government of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Health to properly wash your hands regularly with water and soap, use hand sanitizing products when soap and water is unavailable, and to limit the contact people have with individuals exhibiting signs of illness. An example of limiting contact is to refrain from shaking hands. Face masks are of negligible benefit to healthy individuals, and could actually increase your risk of illness through constant adjusting of the mask with your hands.
This particular outbreak is being further complicated through misinformation, and media bias. It is recommended all members get information regarding the COVID-19 situation from reputable, and preferably, primary sources. You can find further information on the situation, updated frequently, at these locations:
The World Health Organization COVID-19 Home
The WHO COVID-19 Advice For The Public
The WHO Q&A on Coronaviruses
The Government of Canada COVID-19 Prevention and Risks
Ontario Ministry of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Get the facts. Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions. Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting. This also applies to use of social media, where incorrect or intentionally misleading information can spread quickly.