The facts about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.

The Province of Alberta has added new symptoms to the list of conditions that could signal you have COVID-19:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained loss of appetite;
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste;
  • Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.


Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.


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.

These viruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.


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

  • 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;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • When coughing or sneezing:
    • Cover you mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs,
    • Immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards,
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices and doorknobs;
  • Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19—fever, cough, or difficult breathing:

  • Stay home to avoid spreading it to others
  • If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a two-meter distance
  • Go online for a self-assessment, and if that assessment advises you to do so, call 811 for a further assessment and referral for a test
  • If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and tell them your symptoms, but ONLY if you feel you are in a life threatening situation. Keep 911 open for real emergencies.



If you are in mandatory self-isolation (includes returning Canadians, anyone with symptoms, anyone close to a person who is sick) you may no longer leave your property. You may not leave the property even for neighbourhood walks; if you live in an apartment/highrise, you may not leave your unit and may not use the elevator or stairwells.



World Health Organization Q&A

The World Health Organization is continuously monitoring and responding to this pandemic. Their Q&A will be updated as more is known about COVID-19, how it spreads and how it is affecting people worldwide. For more information, regularly check the WHO coronavirus pages