The WHO has officially declared the Coronavirus a Pandemic.

The last few weeks has caused panic worldwide. People are stocking up in preparation, and those who are more susceptible of succumbing to the virus are especially anxious about this virus.

Due to the mass amount of information and misinformation currently on the web, we have conducted intelligence to help you. Information on this page is updated as of March 16, 2020.

What is COVID-19?

According to WHO, ‘coronaviruses’ are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS coronavirus, which is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and SARs, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

Corona viruses are circulating in animals and some of these coronaviruses have the capability of transmitting between animals and humans. We call that a spillover event.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in Wuhan, China, and is now being spread throughout the world.

What are the symptoms?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is characterized by mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. Illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.

More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.

People may experience: runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, difficulty breathing (severe cases)

What are the current numbers?

  • There has been 182,428 confirmed coronavirus cases around the world. There are a combined 7,157 deaths, but a positive 79,211 has recovered.
  • As of now, China, where the virus originated, still tops the list with a total of 80,881 cases. Of those, only 8,967 are active right now.
  • Italy is second hitting 27,980 total cases, 23,073 of those are active, and Iran is third with 14,991 total cases, of which 9,548 are active.
  • Around the world, Spain, South Korea, Germany, France, USA, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and Austria also have over 1000 cases.

In regards to Canada, there are 441 total cases, 426 of those cases are active. 3 People have died in Canada due to the coronavirus. Considering Canada is the 2nd biggest country in the world, and the cases are spread around the provinces, the risk is ‘still low to Canadians’.

Check out this site for current numbers. Check out here for Canadian stats.

Should I be worried?

Maybe. A lot of the fear and panic going around is because of the media. Some are scared of how contagious it is, and others remember the 2003 SARS pandemic.

However, current statistics have shown that the majority of people who have contracted the COVID-19 virus have recovered. About 20% of cases are severe and require medical treatment, and only 1-2% of cases have complications that ultimately lead to death. More people die of the common flu every year.

Those who should be worried are those who are at the biggest risk of complications due to the virus, such as those who:

  • are 65 or over
  • have a long-term condition
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system

There is no cure or specific treatment for the coronavirus at this time. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

If you do contract the virus, you’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.

How can I protect myself?

WHO and CDC has made a few statements on how to avoid the coronavirus. On a higher level, avoid travel if possible, especially to the countries that are most affected. Some countries have already banned flights and closed their borders to help prevent further spread of the virus, however, at this point in time, many possible cases may have landed already and are wondering around in your city, so it is recommended to avoid people who have traveled recently, especially to countries that have higher numbers.

Here are other ways you can avoid contracting the virus:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitizer gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • only travel on public transport if you need to
  • work from home, if you can
  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • avoid events with large groups of people
  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family

What if I think I have the Coronavirus?

WHO Recommends that you stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

What is being cancelled?

For COVID-19, it is common for people to have the virus for up to a week before showing symptoms. For others, they may have the coronavirus and never show symptoms. Both of these people are contagious and can spread the virus without knowing. This is why countries like Italy and South Korea went from a couple hundreds of cases to thousands within a couple weeks.

Due to this, other countries are acting fast to prevent the spread through “social distancing,” and requesting that people maintain distance from others, and stay home if possible. The less contact we have with each other, the harder it is for the coronavirus to spread.

Many countries have closed down public schools and daycares until April, and post secondary institutions have moved their classes online. Big social events, such as Broadway shows, concerts, and the NBA have been cancelled. In general, any event with over 250 attendees are being pushed to cancel or postpone.

Big companies, such as Apple and Nike, have closed their stores until April, and other corporations are having their employees work from home. Smaller stores that can’t afford to close down are cutting back their hours, and restaurants are switching to take out or delivery only.

Essential businesses such as pharmacies and grocery stores will generally stay open during this time.

For those in our city, Toronto, you can check our Global News for a current list of what is closed or cancelled during this time.

How can I prepare?

Everyone is recommended to stay at home if they can to help prevent further spread of this virus. To prepare for temporary quarantine, it is suggested to stock up on the essentials, especially canned and frozen goods that will last longer. However, you should not resort to panic buying and hoarding. If everyone works together, we can get rid of the virus faster.

Final notes

Although this may seem like a scary time, do be assured that it isn’t as bad as social media is making it out to seem. If you are not in the ‘at-risk’ group, you have high chances of recovering if you did catch it. Countries are going into lock down and urging everyone to stay at home so the virus can be contained and stop spreading.

The best thing you can do at this time is keep updated with the news, practice proper hygiene, avoid social events, and keep your distance from other people. As places close and people stay home, the faster we can get rid of the virus.


Government of Canada:

Kevin Kinsella