COVID-19 Update from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer

COVID-19

OTTAWA – In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement.

“There have been 112,240 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 8 870 deaths. 87% of people have now recovered. Labs across Canada have tested over 3,659,000 people for COVID-19 to date. Over the past week, an average of 44,000 people were tested daily, with 1% testing positive.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread and affected populations around the world, public health and clinical experts have a better understanding of how the disease manifests and the range of symptoms experienced by those who develop illness. Early on, it was known that a typical symptomatic case of COVID-19 may present with cough, fever and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, but over time, it has become clear that there are other commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

Since it is vitally important that anyone experiencing symptoms, even if mild, stay home and isolate themselves from others, everyone needs to be aware of the type and range of symptoms to look out for and to monitor our health closely.

Based on the latest evidence, the list of commonly reported symptoms has been expanded to include other symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and loss of smell and/or taste, among others. Information on the expanded list of symptoms is available on the Canada.ca website.

It is also important to be aware that symptoms can vary from person to person and across different age groups. For example, cases in children have been more commonly associated with abdominal symptoms and skin changes or rashes. In terms of severity, COVID-19 is known to range from asymptomatic infection or mild illness to prolonged and severe illness that can sometimes lead to death. Regardless of whether and what symptoms a person develops, the virus can be spread to others. This applies even when someone has been “silently” infected with the virus and are either not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic case) or never develop symptoms (asymptomatic infection).

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are steps we can all take to reduce of contracting the disease ourselves and spreading to others:

1.  Assess your risk for exposure and potential to spread to family, friends and other contacts and plan activities accordingly

  • Stay home and away from others, if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you develop symptoms.
  • Protect vulnerable family, friends and contacts by finding virtual ways to connect and support those who are at higher risk for severe outcomes of COVID-19.
  • Plan lower risk activities by opting for outdoor gathering, with less people and for short durations, wherever possible.

2.  Take precautions to reduce your exposure to the virus

  • Wash your hands often and/or carry a Health Canada-approved hand sanitizer when you go out.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a clean tissue or your sleeve.
  • Practice physical distancing and/or wear a non-medical mask or face covering when you can’t keep two metres away from others.

3.  Avoid or strictly limit time spent in high risk situations and settings (avoid the 3 Cs), where physical distancing can be difficult to maintain and others may not be wearing masks or face coverings:

  • Closed spaces with poor ventilation
  • Crowded places with large numbers of people
  • Close contact, where you cannot keep 2 metres apart from others

Remember, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to COVID-19. If you think you may have been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19, avoid contact with others, and contact your local public health authority to be guided safely to testing and care.

It may be distressing to think you may have COVID-19, but remember, you are not alone. Do not hesitate to reach out for support and guidance to get a COVID-19 test, seek medical attention as needed and access mental health supports as soon as you think you may need it – don’t wait.

Our actions matter. Individually and collectively, every decision we make to reduce our risk of exposure and every precaution we take to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, can help prevent a reacceleration of the epidemic. Ultimately it is each one of has a role to play in keeping cases and contacts low and determining the overall impact of COVID-19’s in Canada. Learn more on Canada.ca/coronavirus.”

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada