What is the Coronavirus / COVID-19?

It is a virus affecting your respiratory tracts.

Why is it called COVID-19?

The CO means corona, the VI means virus and the D means disease. The number 19 is for 2019. Its name is derived from the structure (morphology) of the virus, which resembles a corona when observed under an electron microscope.

How is the virus transmitted?

The virus is believed to be transmitted via respiratory droplets. Droplets normally do not travel more than six feet (about two meters) and they do not linger in the air. However, the virus can remain viable in aerosols in certain condition for at least 3 hours. Droplets are transmitted when someone coughs, sneezes or even talks (through spitting). If you come in contact with the virus and touch your eyes, nose and mouth (mucous membranes), you can get the virus. Therefore, that is why you should wash your hands wherever you go and avoid contact with your face and mouth.

Since temperature’s getting warmer, does it mean I have less chance of developing the virus?

Normally, coronavirus have a shorter survival span in high temperatures and humidity. However, it seems to be able to still survive in these conditions, therefore caution should still be taken.

How long is someone considered infectious?

It isn’t clear for how long someone is considered infected, but certain studies say that the median survival of the virus is between 8 to 37 days.

If I come in contact with the virus, how much time does it take for me to experience symptoms?

The incubation period of the virus is thought to be within 14 days, meaning it can take up to 14 days to start developing symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?

The following symptoms are the most common (from the most common to the least common):

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Anorexia (weight loss)
  • Myalgias (muscle pain)
  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
  • Sputum (spitting mucous)
Other less common symptoms have also been reported; for example, you could have nausea and diarrhea. People also complained of symptoms similar to those experienced with a cold: headache, sore throat, rhinorrhea (runny nose) and fatigue.

Should I be worried if I experience some of the symptoms presented in the previous question?

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms, do not panic. The first step you should consider is to get yourself tested. Secondly you should avoid contacts with fragile people that have chronic diseases or that are older. Tertiary, it is not because you have symptoms of the disease that you have the virus, you could also simply experience a cold or other viral illnesses.

I’ve heard that some people can be asymptomatic (no symptoms) and still test positive to the virus, is it true?

Yes, it is. A study made on a cruise ship was able to show that out of 619 confirmed cases of COVID-19, at the moment of diagnosis, half of the confirmed cases were asymptomatic. This is why social distancing is so important, you can have and transmit the virus to others while having no symptoms at all.

What are the risks of having the COVID-19?

The infection could be very mild as well as very severe. One of the main complication of the COVID-19 is dyspnea, which is characterised by being short of breath, having difficulty breathing, talking, etc. One major complication is called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This complication can be associated with having fluids accumulating in your alveoli. Picture your alveoli as small bags in your lungs filled with the inspired air, this is where your body gets his oxygen ressources. If the bags’ air capacity is replaced with fluid, you won’t be able to get enough oxygen and it can get very dangerous. This is mainly the reason why people have died from the virus. Other reported complications include arrhythmias, acute cardiac injury and shock. In simpler words, it could affect your heart and your whole body system. (example of a response of your body to an infectious agent --> acute decrease in blood pressure)

If I am young and healthy, does it mean that I am less at risk of complications?

Several studies have shown that young people are less at risk of: 1) Developing the virus 2) Suffering from complications from the virus. This does not mean that you are immune and won’t get complications, it means that you will probably have more ease to fight the illness. People of middle age/older people are at higher risk of being affected. For example, from one study, about 80% of death occurred in people over 65 years of age and 67% of people infected were over 45 years old.

What does social distancing mean and why is it important?

Many countries are currently overwhelmed by the amount of sick people having the COVID-19. Therefore, they do not have enough resources to treat everyone and this increases the amount of people that are suffering from complications and ultimately, dying. This is where social distancing comes into play. Social distancing means staying away from large group of people and ideally, avoiding contacts with others. By doing this, we are able to “flatten the curve”. Flattening the curve means that we want to expand on a greater time the amount of people being infected, so less people are infected at the same time. This way, it allows people to recover/get treated from the virus before others get the virus, allowing healthcare services enough time to help everyone. See graph below:

How can I get diagnosed for the COVID-19?

To get tested for the coronavirus, the only way to confirm the presence of the disease is by laboratory finding. The test consists of doing a nasopharyngeal swab (analysis). To do so, a trained person will use a long Q-tip to swab the back of your throat on both side and then, they will swab the interior of your nose. If you are symptomatic and get tested in an hospital center, they might also do a chest X-Ray to look at your lungs on imaging.

Where can I get tested for the COVID-19 in NDG/Montreal?

If you are symptomatic, it is recommended that you call the 811 or at 514-644-4545 before going anywhere. If you want to get tested without an appointment, you need to have the following criteria: Having two criteria in total or one contact criteria and one clinical criteria: Contact Criteria:

  • You have travelled outside of Canada and: are back since March 1st.
  • You have travelled outside of Canada and have symptoms since the last 14 days or less
  • You have travelled outside of Canada and have been in one of the public site targeted by the public health authorities.
Clinical Criteria:
  • You have been in contact with a traveller with one or multiple symptoms
  • You have one of the following symptoms:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing that started during your vacation, in the past 14 days once you got back from vacation or in the 14 days following your potential exposition.
The clinic is located at the “Place des festivals” (Quartier des spectacles), corner of St-Urbain and Maisonneuve Boulevard. If you don’t have any symptoms and think you have been in contact with someone that has the virus or that tested positive for the virus, please call the 811 or 514-644-4545 to get an appointment.

Will I be told if someone that I know is diagnosed with COVID-19?

If someone is diagnosed, the public health team at Montreal’s public health department usually try to retrace all previous contacts with others. Therefore, if the infected person mentions your name, they will call you to give you instructions. If you learn by someone that you have been in contact with someone’s infected, please call 1-877-644-4545.

What distance should I keep myself from others?

You might have heard in social media to always keep a meter of distance when waiting in line, when walking in the street or when chatting with someone. Droplets that are responsible for virus transmission usually do not travel beyond 6 feet (2 meters), therefore keeping a distance of 2 meters will reduce risks of transmission. recommends keeping a 1 metre of distance if the contact with an individual last less than 10 minutes and to keep 2 metres of distance if the contact last for more than 10 minutes. Remember that keeping a distance from someone else does not make it impossible to get the virus, self-isolation and social distancing is always preferred.

During the isolation period established by the government, can I go take a walk?

Ideally, you should go outside as little as possible and only when needed. Practically, walking can be good to stay healthy in your mind and in your body. The problem is if everyone in your neighborhood are walking at the same time, then you are no more self-isolating. Wearing a mask when you step outside of your home can help stay safe.

What should I do if I come back from vacation

You should self-isolate for at least 14 days. You need to stay alone, ideally even apart from family. We do understand that it may not be possible for everyone. Caution: some areas/provinces are now giving enormous tickets if people do not respect the isolation requirements.

I’m worried about the virus, who can I talk to?

While our service’s primary goal is not to offer psychological and social counseling, if you feel in distress, you can still call us and we will be in measure to refer you to the right instances/people. Examples of lines you can call if you feel anxious, worried, depressed or if you have suicidal thoughts:

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Head and Hands, jeunesse 2000: (514) 872-9444
  • Suicide Action Montreal: 1-866-277-3553

Can I take public transportations safely?

We advise to avoid rushing hours and prioritize walking or biking with your own bike than using public transportation. Wash your hand before and after leaving a public transportation utility. A mask is yet not mandatory, but if you are access to one, it is recommended to wear one.

I have children, should I be worried?

Children are less at risk of developing the virus and of having complications. You should keep your children at home as often as possible, avoid going to crowded areas, avoiding playgrounds and keeping your children away from small groups of children. Encourage your children to follow recommendations and to wash their hands often.

I am lonely, what can I do?

We understand the stress and anxiety that the pandemic can cause. We understand that self-isolating is hard, especially if you don’t have a family or live alone. You may be more at risk of feeling isolated if:

  • It’s hard for you to read or write
  • It’s difficult for you to communicate in French or English
  • You have a hard time accessing health care for problems that you already had before the pandemic.
  • You have physical limitations or a disability that make it hard for you to wash your hands often, or to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • You need help to stay independent.
  • Accessing adapted transportation is hard for you.
  • You’re afraid of losing your job.
  • Your working conditions are not very flexible.
  • You feel alone or isolated.
  • You’re concerned about your home because it’s too expensive or unfit to live in.
  • You have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month, with the money you have for your family’s and your needs.
  • You are a refugee, asylum-seeker, without status or recent immigrant.
  • Source:
What can I do if I feel alone or isolated?
  • Don’t be afraid to express your concerns
  • Try to find alternative ways of communication through phone call, social media, email, video chat, etc.
Examples of communication ressources: Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, etc. Take time to explore yourself, to read a book, take up painting, drawing or other activities. If you feel in distress, call us and we will refer you to adequate instances.

I am considered at risk of complications, what does it mean and what can I do?

You are at higher risk of complications if you suffer from one or more of the followings:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
Being at risk means that if you get the coronavirus, you are at higher risk of having complications/a bad outcome. Being at higher risk does not mean that you will have complications, it means that you could have complications. Therefore, you should self-isolate even more and take greater precautions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the following:

I am feeling sick and I got tested for the virus, what can I do while waiting for my result?

We recommend that you consult the following resource and respect it:

I am pregnant or I am breastfeeding

1. Can my pregnancy or my baby be at risk if I get the virus? Currently, there is no evidence of intrauterine transmission to the fetus, therefore being infected won’t infect the child in your belly. Some babies got the virus once the mother delivered, but it is hypothesized that the transmission is due to close contact with the mother or another infected caregiver. There is an increased frequency of preterm labors and C-section deliveries, but they are due to the severe maternal illness, so to the mom being very sick and not to the virus itself. If you get the virus and are pregnant, you should contact your doctor. 2. Can I breastfeed if I’m infected? Currently, one report of testing found no virus in the maternal milk of mothers, but it has been done in only 6 patients. Therefore, we are not sure of whether it can be transmitted or not. Droplets from your mouth/nose could infect the baby during breastfeeding. 3. What is recommended?

  • Wash you hand and wear a face mask
  • You could pump your milk and ask another caregiver to feed it to the baby. Make sure that the bottle is well-washed and wear gloves and masks when pumping the milk. Strictly wash your hands before putting on gloves.
  • If you are using formula, use same precautions when feeding it to your baby.

I am receiving medications for immunosuppression, what should I do?

Currently, no evidence suggests stopping the medications if you have no evidence of COVID-19. It could be harmful for yourself. If you get COVID-19, you will need to discuss with your doctor as he will tell you what to do on a case-by-case basis.

How can I make sure to protect myself from getting COVID-19?

To protect yourself against the virus, you can follow these measures:

  • Wash/clean your hands regularly.
  • Maintain at least 2 metres of distance from anyone coughing/sneezing.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Follow good respiratory hygiene (e.g. coughing in your elbow and washing your hands after sneezing).
  • Stay home, especially if you feel sick.
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