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Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

The daughter and wife of a COVID-19 patient speak to him at a hospital video calling facility in New Delhi on July 2.

Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

The latest

COVID-19 AROUND THE WORLD

  • India: Cases in the country surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, the Indian health ministry said as officials tried to contain new hotspots while reopening most of the country’s economy from lockdown. The western state of Maharashtra, which reported a surge this week, makes up more than a fifth of India’s total caseload, which is now the fourth-highest on Earth and rapidly closing in on the No. 3 spot currently held by Russia.
  • New Zealand: Health Minister David Clark quit on Thursday after the country declared itself COVID-19-free, then just days later detected new cases, two women who arrived from Britain and were allowed to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern named her education minister, Chris Hipkins, as Mr. Clark’s interim replacement until September’s elections.

Chef Ivan Castro and his husband and business partner, Pedro Afif, check to see whether a delicate clay comal cookware survived the journey from Mexico to their new Toronto restaurant, La Bartola. They hope to open with patio service in mid-July.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

COVID-19: THE NATIONAL PICTURE

  • Businesses: While many owners closed their businesses or scuttled expansion plans after COVID-19 came to Canada, others are going ahead and opening new locations. Urban affairs reporter Oliver Moore took a look at five such businesses in Toronto, and how they think they could thrive despite the pandemic-related uncertainty.
  • Hospitals: Fewer COVID-19 cases in Canada required hospital care or ventilators last month compared with the pandemic’s initial months, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s latest data. That could reflect lower infection rates among elderly and other vulnerable people, some infectious-disease experts say, but others warn it could also give Canadians a false sense of security before new outbreaks erupt.

A masked migrant worker loads trays of onions at a farm in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Shannon VanRaes/Reuters

COVID-19: THE LOCAL PICTURE

  • Manitoba: It’s a dubious honour, but Manitobans will take it: They’re the province whose economic growth has been least derailed by COVID-19, according to recent bank forecasts. One reason is that Manitoba’s economy is relatively diverse; another is that it’s had lower COVID-19 rates than any other province except Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, economics reporter Matt Lundy explains.
  • Ontario: Ombudsman Paul Dubé says his ongoing probe of the Ford government’s handling of COVID-19 will look at how deaths can be prevented at long-term care homes in the future, but health-care professionals say its focus may be too narrow and overlook systemic staffing and training problems.


Essential resources

COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, has killed thousands of people around the world since early this year. Later in this guide, you’ll see an overview of how the world is mobilizing to stop its spread and save lives, but first, here are some essential links answering key questions about how all Canadians can help. We have a daily coronavirus newsletter.

  • Are you feeling unwell? If you’ve got COVID-19-like symptoms (dry cough, fever and aches) or have just returned to Canada, you should self-isolate right away. Here’s what that means. Here are some primers on safety for seniors and parents caring for sick or quarantined children. There’s also a visual guide to self-isolation below in the “how do I flatten the curve?" section.
  • Are you distancing? “Physical distancing” means minimizing close contact with others, not the 14-day self-isolation required for sick people and travellers. Generally, it means staying home unless absolutely necessary, and wearing masks in public settings, like stores or transit, where you can’t keep a distance of more than two metres from other people. But every province and territory has its own set of evolving rules for what distancing looks like in practice. If you’re staying home, here are primers on good foods and supplies to stock, what cleaning products and methods are most effective, and tips on good exercise and mental-health habits.
  • Are you abroad? If you’re still overseas and have no symptoms, you’re allowed to come back to Canada. But once you return, don’t stop for groceries first; go straight home. As of March 26, returnees refusing self-isolation can face six-figure fines or prison time under the federal Quarantine Act.
  • Are you getting the right information? Rumours and hoaxes can run rampant during crises, which is dangerous to public health. Stick to the facts as communicated by agencies like the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada or your provincial health authority. If you need pointers on how to spot misinformation, try this media literacy quiz The Globe prepared in 2017.
Watch: How can you stop the spread of coronavirus in your community? The Globe offers pointers on hygiene and physical distancing.

What we know so far about the disease

Symptoms

The new illness that emerged last December in China – officially called COVID-19, previously known as 2019-nCoV – is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Corona means “crown” or “halo” in Latin, describing the viruses’ typical shape when seen under an electron microscope. The common cold is a type of coronaviral illness, but it tends to cause nasal congestion, which COVID-19 doesn’t always do. COVID-19′s symptoms (dry coughing, fever and aches) resemble more serious and dangerous coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS. Initially the symptoms can also look like flu, which is caused by a different virus type, but don’t let the similarity fool you: COVID-19 is far more dangerous (more on that below).

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

The air by coughing and sneezing

Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface

Rarely, fecal contamination

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS?

Headache

Dry cough

Fever

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS

Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people

There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

The air by coughing and sneezing

Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface

Rarely, fecal contamination

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS?

Headache

Dry cough

Fever

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS

Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people

There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

The air by coughing and sneezing

Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface

Rarely, fecal

contamination

COMMON SIGNS OF INFECTION

Headache

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death

Dry cough

Fever

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS

Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people

There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO

How COVID-19 CAN KILL YOU

COVID-19′s death rate varies considerably from country to country and among age groups, but even conservative estimates put it tens of times higher than seasonal influenza (0.1 per cent), though generally lower than SARS (10 per cent). The graphics below offer a step-by-step explanation of COVID-19′s lethal effects on the body in severe cases.

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VIRUS

The virus enters the lungs and attaches itself to cells which make up the lungs’ protective lining.

CELLS

RNA

RECEPTOR

VIRUS

Once attached to a cell’s receptor, the virus injects its RNA into the cell, providing it with the blueprint to build copies of the virus.

IMMUNE

CELL

INFECTED

DEAD

The infected cell eventually self-destructs, releasing the virus to infect neighbouring cells. Exponential growth in infected cells triggers an excessive response by the immune system. Immune cells sent to fight the virus begin to destroy both infected and healthy cells.

ALVEOLI

BACTERIA

BACTERIAL

INFECTION

If enough of the protective lining is destroyed, it leaves the alveoli – the tiny air sacs via which breathing occurs – vulnerable to bacterial infection. This can lead to severe respiratory problems, making mechanical ventilation necessary to help the patient survive.

The immune system can become overwhelmed while the bacteria multiply. If bacteria enter the blood, they can overrun the body and cause death.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: KURZGESAGT

VIRUS

The virus enters the lungs and attaches itself to the cells that make up the protective lining of the lungs.

CELLS

RNA

RECEPTOR

VIRUS

Once attached to a cell’s receptor, the virus injects its RNA into the cell, providing it with the blueprint to build copies of the virus.

IMMUNE

CELL

INFECTED

DEAD

The infected cell eventually self-destructs, releasing the virus to infect neighbouring cells. Exponential growth in infected cells triggers an excessive response by the immune system. Immune cells sent to fight the virus begin to destroy both infected and healthy cells.

ALVEOLI

BACTERIA

BACTERIAL

INFECTION

If enough of the protective lining is destroyed, it leaves the alveoli – the tiny air sacs via which breathing occurs – vulnerable to bacterial infection. This can lead to severe respiratory problems, making mechanical ventilation necessary to help the patient survive.

The immune system can become overwhelmed while the bacteria multiply. If bacteria enter the blood, they can overrun the body and cause death.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: KURZGESAGT

VIRUS

The virus enters the lungs and attaches itself to the cells that make up the protective lining of the lungs.

CELLS

RNA

RECEPTOR

VIRUS

Once attached to a cell’s receptor, the virus injects its RNA into the cell, providing it with the blueprint to build copies of the virus.

IMMUNE

CELL

INFECTED

DEAD

The infected cell eventually self-destructs, releasing the virus to infect neighbouring cells. Exponential growth in infected cells triggers an excessive response by the immune system. Immune cells sent to fight the virus begin to destroy both infected and healthy cells.

ALVEOLI

BACTERIA

BACTERIAL

INFECTION

If enough of the protective lining is destroyed, it leaves the alveoli – the tiny air sacs via which breathing occurs – vulnerable to bacterial infection. This can lead to severe respiratory problems, making mechanical ventilation necessary to help the patient survive.

The immune system can become overwhelmed while the bacteria multiply. If bacteria enter the blood, they can overrun the body and cause death.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: KURZGESAGT

Transmission

Though SARS had a higher death rate than COVID-19, it infected and killed far fewer people (8,098 infections and 774 deaths worldwide, according to the U.S. CDC’s estimates). One possible reason for this is that unlike SARS, whose carriers generally knew they were sick, the new coronavirus is transmissible before symptoms develop. On average, it takes about five days for people infected with COVID-19 to show symptoms, according to a U.S.-based team’s estimates published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. SARS’s incubation period was longer, about 10 days.

Testing

Health officials in Canada and other countries have a test to make sure whether a patient has COVID-19 or some other illness. Depending on where you live in Canada, these may be available either at dedicated clinics or in at-home visits from health officials. If you start showing the symptoms of COVID-19, contact your local health authority or family doctor and do as they advise.

What Canada has done

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces takes part in a training session in Montreal before deploying to seniors' homes on April 29.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Physical distancing

Various governments have introduced new limits on public assembly and events since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in mid-March.

  • Public gatherings: Provincial governments have used state-of-emergency powers to limit public assemblies to just a few people, and will use fines or other penalties to enforce that. Check our guide of the rules by province and territory to see what it’s like near you.
  • Essential businesses: Most provinces issued lists of businesses deemed “essential” and barred others from operating, except as work-from-home or e-commerce operations. Since June, a lot of the closed businesses have reopened under stricter rules for physical distancing.
  • Schools: Most provincial governments have closed their K-12 public school systems, though Quebec’s and B.C.‘s have reopened in limited form. High schools, junior colleges and universities have moved to e-learning and many are not planning to reopen until September.
Watch: Four Canadians crossed the Rainbow Bridge on March 18 shortly after it was announced the border would be closed to non-essential travel. The Globe and Mail

Travel restrictions

  • International travel: The United States and Canada suspended non-essential border traffic, except for essential supply chains, on March 20. Canada had already barred most non-American foreign nationals from entering and restricted international air travel to the airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Canadians abroad are urged to come home and self-isolate for 14 days, but only if they’re asymptomatic: Airlines will refuse passage to anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Interprovincial and intercity travel: Getting on a train, plane or bus has been an increasingly complicated process across Canada, and masks may be mandatory if you’re using one of those. Some provinces and territories closed their borders, and have reopened them only selectively, such as the “Atlantic bubble” that will allow free movement among Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick starting July 3.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic on April 29.

Blair Gable/Reuters

Federal economic relief

Since mid-March, the Trudeau government’s stimulus measures have grown to tens of billions worth of direct supports and tax deferrals, which Ottawa has continued to add to or extend. The measures include:

  • Canada Emergency Relief Benefit: A $2,000-a-month, 16-week emergency benefit to pay workers whose income drops to zero, even if they have been furloughed by employers but technically still have jobs.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: Three months of support for businesses to cover employees’ wages, initially 10 per cent but later raised to 75 per cent. Businesses of any size, including charities and non-profits, are eligible if they can show a 30-per-cent revenue drop or more.
  • Canada Emergency Business Account: One-time loans of up to $40,000 arranged by major banks to help small- and medium-sized businesses to stay afloat.
  • Canada Emergency Student Benefit: Payments to postsecondary students of $1,250 a month, or $1,750 if they have disabilities or dependent children.

The shifting epicentres

Since the virus emerged last year, three countries – China, then Italy, then the United States – have taken turns as the most infected ones on the planet. Here’s how their governments have responded.

Wuhan, March 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital.

Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP

China

Last December, authorities in Hubei province initially dismissed warnings of a new virus, and even punished the Wuhan ophthalmologist who tried to sound the alarm. But within weeks, when the outbreak was spreading fast, China put millions of people in Wuhan and its environs under near-total quarantine, just as the Lunar New Year travel season was getting under way. Chinese lawmakers also banned the trade and consumption of wild animal meat, the suspected source of the virus. As the quarantines brought China’s economy to a standstill, local governments faced conflicting demands to bring people back to work but still prevent the spread of COVID-19. In March, after the number of new Chinese cases levelled off, travel restrictions began to lift. Since then, China’s focus has been on preventing the reintroduction of COVID-19 from other countries, leading in some cases to discrimination and violence against foreigners.

The Globe in China: Read the latest reports from Nathan VanderKlippe

Rome, March 8: The Colosseum, closed after the government's new prevention measures on public gatherings, is reflected in a puddle where a face mask lies.

Alfredo Falcone/LaPresse via AP

Italy

COVID-19 hit northern Italy’s Lombardy region fast and hard in February after hospital staff failed to isolate a super-carrier who visited them several times. Soon, Italy had hundreds of cases, then thousands, and many countries across Europe and Africa traced their first COVID-19 cases back to the Italian epidemic. After local quarantines and the closing of schools and universities failed to stop the virus’s spread, by early March, the Italian government put Lombardy under a total lockdown – measures that were soon extended nationwide, affecting 62 million Italians. The quarantine required most Italians to stay home, prohibited public assembly and non-essential travel and closed pools, theatres and sporting events. Additional measures announced on March 11 also closed all stores except groceries and pharmacies. Soon, Spain, France and the Czech Republic instituted Italian-style quarantine measures. Italy’s lockdown began to ease in May, and since June travel within Europe has slowly reopened.

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The Globe in Italy: Read the latest reports from Eric Reguly

Washington, March 31: U.S. President Donald Trump listens stands in front of a chart showing projected COVID-19 deaths.

Tom Brenner/Reuters

United States

Through February and early March, U.S. President Donald Trump, who is up for re-election later this year, generally told Americans that they were not at great risk from COVID-19 and economic activities should go on as normal. He also contradicted public health officials on everything from the virus’s fatality rate to the risks posed by workers who come in sick. Meanwhile, U.S. health officials performed far fewer tests than other jurisdictions, including Canada. Under mounting pressure to act, Mr. Trump declared a national state of emergency in mid-March and prodded Congress to pass three relief packages worth trillions of dollars. But by the end of April, when his home state of New York remained the worst-affected in the country, Mr. Trump allowed federal lockdown recommendations to lapse. Since then, he and his supporters put state governments under mounting pressure to reopen quickly, even as cases began to surge again in June thanks to new outbreaks in different states.

The Globe in Washington: Read the latest reports from Adrian Morrow

How do I ‘flatten the curve’?

When diseases reach uninfected populations, a graph of the new infections will generally follow a curve: Infections rise, then peak, then fall. You’ll see a lot of officials talk about “flattening the curve,” or preventing the peak infections from exceeding their health systems’ ability to handle them. A big part of this is physical distancing: Avoiding public gatherings, staying home from work or school and changing social habits, like waving instead of shaking hands. If front-line health workers are spared from a sudden and overwhelming increase in new cases, lives will be saved. And when the pandemic is over, those workers will be better-equipped to act once there’s a vaccine available for the new disease, like the one researchers are racing to develop for COVID-19.

HOW TO ISOLATE AT HOME WHEN YOU HAVE COVID-19

Isolation means staying at home when you are sick with COVID-19 and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is expected that you take the following measures.

AVOID CONTAMINATING COMMON

ITEMS AND SURFACES

At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes. Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.

CARE FOR YOURSELF

Monitor your symptoms as directed by your health-care provider or Public Health Authority. If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health-care provider or Public Health Authority and follow their instructions.

LIMIT CONTACT WITH OTHERS

Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care. Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g. buses, taxis). Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.

KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

HOW TO ISOLATE AT HOME WHEN YOU HAVE COVID-19

Isolation means staying at home when you are sick with COVID-19 and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is expected that you take the following measures.

AVOID CONTAMINATING COMMON

ITEMS AND SURFACES

At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes. Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.

CARE FOR YOURSELF

Monitor your symptoms as directed by your health-care provider or Public Health Authority. If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health-care provider or Public Health Authority and follow their instructions.

LIMIT CONTACT WITH OTHERS

Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care. Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g. buses, taxis). Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.

KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

HOW TO ISOLATE AT HOME WHEN YOU HAVE COVID-19

Isolation means staying at home when you are sick with COVID-19 and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is expected that you take the following measures.

AVOID CONTAMINATING COMMON

ITEMS AND SURFACES

LIMIT CONTACT WITH OTHERS

At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes. Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.

Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care. Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g. buses, taxis). Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.

CARE FOR YOURSELF

KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.

Monitor your symptoms as directed by your health-care provider or Public Health Authority. If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health-care provider or Public Health Authority and follow their instructions.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

More reading

On the science: Ivan Semeniuk explains

When does physical distancing end? These graphs show where we’re heading and why

How experts in big data and health are trying to map COVID-19 in the community

Hunt is on for drugs that hit COVID-19 where it’s most vulnerable

COVID-19 in depth

Ottawa had a playbook for a coronavirus-like pandemic 14 years ago. What went wrong?

In Canada’s coronavirus fight, front-line workers miss their families, fear the worst and hope they’re ready

A bit of relief

Watch: In March, Joel Plaskett debuted Frontlines of the Hard Times, a song in tribute to health-care workers, on a livestream with The Globe and Mail from his studio in Dartmouth, N.S.

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Carly Weeks, Kelly Grant, Wency Leung, Ivan Semeniuk, Andrea Woo, Jeff Gray, Eric Atkins, Patrick Brethour, Robert Fife, Marieke Walsh, Bill Curry, Nathan VanderKlippe, Eric Reguly, Paul Waldie, The Associated Press, Reuters and The Canadian Press

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

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