About Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some can infect animals, and some can infect humans. COVID-19 is a new disease caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that was first identified in December 2019 and declared a global pandemic in March 2020.

Those who are infected with COVID-19 may not have many symptoms; sometimes none at all (asymptomatic). Symptoms of COVID-19 are often similar to other illnesses.


Symptoms of COVID-19 can:

  • take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus
  • be very mild or more serious
  • vary from person to person


Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze
  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands


The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to:

  • practice physical distancing at all times
  • stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • when coughing or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs and wash your hands afterwards
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices and doorknobs
  • wear a non-medical mask or face covering (It needs to be constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping) to protect the people and area around you

If You Have Symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19:

  • stay home (isolate) to avoid spreading it to others
  • if you live with others, try to stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance
  • call ahead before you visit a health care professional or call your local public health authority
  • tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions
  • if you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and tell them your symptoms

You can find the most up to date government information at Canada.ca/coronavirus or contact 1-833-784-4397

This article contains information from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Last updated: December 11, 2020 4006434