Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Source: World Health Organization

Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include:

  • fever
  • cough that's new or worsening
  • chills
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • headache that's unusual
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose (not related to allergies)
  • digestive issues

Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Health

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

  • respiratory droplets generated 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

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but the following everyday actions can help reduce exposure to the virus:
  • stay at home as much as possible
  • avoid all non-essential trips in your community
  • if you leave your home, keep a distance of at least 2 metres from others
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • wear a mask in public spaces (public transit, grocery stores, shops, etc.)
  • clean frequently touch surfaces such as toilets, door handles, phones, etc. with the appropriate disinfectant
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada and Ontario Ministry of Health

At this time, there is no vaccine or therapy to treat or prevent this disease. Currently, the treatment of COVID-19 includes supportive care and treatment of any secondary infections, such as pneumonia. Nevertheless, hundreds of clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are ongoing around the world including many in Canada. Encouraging results have been reported form early trials of some vaccine candidates1.

Source: Health Canada