COVID-19 Information for the Public

Please note, information is changing rapidly. Please check back often for new information and updates.

LAST UPDATED: March 26, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that appeared first in Wuhan, China and has since had cases in many countries around the world. A novel coronavirus is one that has not been identified in humans before. It is being referred to as COVID-19 (as of February 11, 2020) and belongs to the coronavirus family, which cause a wide range of illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illnesses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. What does that mean?

  • As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic.
  • A pandemic describes an infectious disease where there is person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world.
  • The declaration of a pandemic does not change WDGPH’s response to COVID-19.
  • Ontario Public Health units, including Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, work very closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, and the Public Health Agency of Canada and continue to monitor and assess the risk to Ontarians.

How many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ontario?

How many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in WDG?

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include:

  • flu/cold-like
  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia

It is important to self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if you have travelled outside Canada because individuals can have the virus and not show symptoms for up to 14 days.

What is the incubation period before symptoms present?

  • The average incubation period is about 5 days. The incubation period varies and can be more or less than 5 days, however, evidence indicates it is less than 14 days. Symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing need to be considered in the context of whether you or someone you have been in close contact with has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • Originally, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reported a link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, person-to-person spread is how the virus is transmitted.
  • The science on the disease indicates it is spread through “droplet-and-contact” transmission – like the common cold or influenza.
  • The virus can live on hard surfaces for 2-3 days. The best advice in terms of prevention is to wash hands frequently and thoroughly, keep your hands away from your eyes and nose, and to wash and disinfect high-touch surfaces like phones, doorknobs and light switches.

Who is most at risk?

Those most at risk are:

  • People experiencing symptoms AND any international travel within 14 days of illness onset.
  • Close contact with someone who is ill and who has travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days. 
  • Based on reported cases, approximately 80 percent of people who get the virus have mild symptoms, 20 percent have more severe symptoms and 5 percent become critically ill.
    • The elderly (65+) and people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions are most at risk from getting a more critical case of the novel coronavirus.

Who is considered a “close contact”?

A close contact is defined as a person who provided care for the patient, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact OR who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was ill.