Your guide to COVID-19 and its impact on life in Canada

Travel restrictions, school and event cancellations are being announced every day. And phrases like “self-isolation” and “social distancing” have now entered the collective lexicon.

It’s certainly difficult to keep track of all the latest developments of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC News has compiled a roundup of stories, explainers and videos on a wide range of topics to keep you up to date on the latest information about the coronavirus.

Latest guidance for Canadians on travel, quarantines and what to do if you have symptoms

Advice amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly, and causing confusion, uncertainty and worry for many. Canadians have been warned to return to Canada while they still can, and have often received conflicting information about what to do — or not do.

To give some clarity, CBC spoke with experts who answered questions about travel plans, symptoms and living with someone with COVID-19.

Do I have COVID-19, the flu or a cold?

Public health officials believe the rate of COVID-19 cases in Canada is going to get worse before things start to get better. If you feel sick, when should you get tested?

Some basic facts about the virus, its symptoms, prevention and what to do if you believe you are infected.

What’s the difference between quarantine and self-isolation?

There are a lot of different terms floating around out there for ways to keep yourself healthy. Canadians should take different precautions based on their level of risk, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Here are the basics:

  • Isolation is recommended for a symptomatic individual who is suspected of having, or known to have, COVID-19. They are directed by PHAC to isolate themselves at home and avoid contact with others until the public health agency has advised that they are no longer considered contagious.
  • Voluntary home quarantine (also known as self-isolation) is recommended for an asymptomatic person, when they have a high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 (through close contact with a symptomatic person or their body fluids). They are asked to self-isolate at home and avoid contact with others. All travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from trips outside of Canada.
  • Mandatory quarantine is the imposed separation or restriction of movement of individuals, groups or communities for a defined period of time and in a location determined by PHAC. An individual in mandatory quarantine is asymptomatic but may have been exposed to the virus causing COVID-19.

What products are actually helpful?

As people hunker down at home, products are flying off the shelves — everything from disinfectant to toilet paper. But what should you actually spend your money on?

If you’re buying hand sanitizer, make sure it’s at least 60 per cent alcohol. The old-fashioned habit of washing with soap and water does a good job, too.

If you’re sick, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of germs to others. But a mask won’t necessarily protect you from catching the coronavirus.

Travel plans

Travelling to Canada, or have tickets to leave? Ottawa has issued a travel advisory urging Canadians outside the country to come back as soon as they can.

Others are wondering what will happen to their outbound travel plans and whether medical or cancellation coverage insurance will still apply.

How COVID-19 support groups can help during self-isolation

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, more Canadians are being asked to to self-isolate at home for a two-week period  if they are symptomatic, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are returning from travel abroad, or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the illness.

Online support groups are being used to help at-risk community members and others struggling to get essential supplies, or even jobs.

Why health experts advise cancelling cruises

Starting on April 2, cruise ships with more than 500 people on board won’t be allowed to dock at Canadian ports until at least July 1. The reason? The current generation of cruise ships, and the combination of close quarters, poor hygiene and passenger mix can function like a petri dish, creating the perfect environment for the spread of a plague, say health experts.

How should I explain what’s happening to my kids?

Explaining the coronavirus to children without upsetting them is a dilemma. Youth psychiatrist Dr. Rachel Mitchell, with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said it’s important to validate fears held by children, to listen to them and to be sure to speak to them at the age-appropriate level. If they have asked questions, answer them honestly, and don’t share any more information beyond what they asked

CBC Kids has published an informative video about social distancing just for them.

Should pets be quarantined?

A dog in Hong Kong originally tested positive for the coronavirus, but later tested negative. The dog in question is still in quarantine and further tests are pending.

Experts say that while dogs can be carriers of the virus, there’s no indication they can spread it to humans.

What you need to know as an employer or employee about COVID-19

If symptoms should strike, what obligations does your employer have toward you and what rights do you have as a worker? Are employers under obligation to keep paying you, even if you cannot report to work?

Is the coronavirus ravaging your investment portfolio? Here’s what you need to know

Investment portfolios have taken a beating as stock markets roller-coaster over concerns of the virus’s impact on the economy. Should people hold on to their investments?

Why experts say we need to need to increase social distancing

The spread of COVID-19 cases in Canada with no known link to travel — called “community transmission — is likely already underway, doctors and infectious diseases specialists say. Many think there are thousands of unreported cases, and the time to act to limit them is now.


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