About COVID-19

This about page was adapted from the Student-Senior Isolation Prevention Partnership (SSIPP) to help answer questions that the general population may ask regarding COVID-19. Though we have tried to include as much relevant information as possible, if you have additional questions or have any suggestions for this guide, feel free to email us at contact@covid19central.ca or visiting the About Us page.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a coronavirus that leads to respiratory infection. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not and your risk of severe disease will vary by factors such as age and other pre-existing conditions.

The following video provides a helpful introduction to the evolution of COVID-19:

How do you get infected?

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets that spread when you cough or sneeze
  • Close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is common when there is close contact.

For a helpful visual explanation of how COVID-19 infects and replicates inside cells, please see this interactive guide from the New York Times.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Isn’t this like the flu?

Based on the percentage of those who die from both (0.1% for flu vs 0.5-1.5% for COVID-19), you are 15x more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to flu. 15% of those with COVID-19 will get severe disease (low oxygen levels) compared to 1.8% of those with the flu, and 5% of those with COVID-19 will be considered critically ill (lung failure, falling BP) compared to 0.27% with flu. 

What conditions predispose me to higher risk of complications from COVID-19?

  • Age 65 years or older
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Lung conditions
  • Kidney disease 
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes 
  • Weak immune system
  • Cancer
  • Obesity

How can I protect myself and others?

  • Sanitation
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the garbage and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Adapted from the County of Los Angeles Public Health
  • Distancing from others
    • Please stay home if you feel ill
    • Avoid shaking hands with others.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are ill (stay 2 metres away at minimum)
    • Avoid visiting hospitals and long-term care facilities
    • Avoid having visitors at home as much as possible
    • For visitors coming into the home, please ask them to stay 2 metres away and wash their hands 
    • Opt for delivery options and have items dropped off outside
    • Place a signage outside your door (example below) to alert others and protect yourself:
Source: Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association

Flattening the curve

Do I need to wear a mask?

You most likely will not need to wear a mask. If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are in close proximity to someone suspected to have COVID-19 at home. If you are coughing or sneezing and suspect you may have COVID-19, you can wear a mask to avoid spread of the virus to others.

It’s important to remember that masks are only effective if used with proper sanitation practices (see previous question) and if worn properly! Disposable face masks can only be used once (do not wear it again after taking it off).  Before wearing the mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer. Take mask by the straps and orient it so the colored side faces outward and the metal strip part is at the top. Place the mask to your face and the straps over your ears. Then, pinch the metal strip to the bridge of your nose and pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and chin. When taking your mask off, remove the straps from your ears and make sure that the front of the mask does not touch you or your clothes. After disposing of the mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

A video example of how to use a surgical mask properly can be found here:

How long do I have to practice self-isolation?

At the moment, we do not know exactly for how long we should practice self-isolation. It could be for weeks, months or even longer. Please keep following the advice from Public Health Ontario and stay informed by listening to your local news channel which has been updating the public on a daily basis.

A how to self-isolate fact sheet from Public Health Ontario can be found here.


The information in this doc has been compiled with sources from: