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Gaza City, Dec. 1: Nouran Faraj, a 24-year-old Palestinian, holds her niece as she dons one of the handmade crochet wool masks she makes.

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

The latest

THE NATIONAL PICTURE

  • Relief: The Trudeau government on Monday promised up to $100-billion in stimulus once the pandemic subsides, but won’t give specifics until the 2021 budget. The measures would include subsidies and loans for industries like tourism, hospitality and entertainment. In the meantime, Ottawa projects a deficit of $381.6-billion this year, which could hit $400-billion if the pandemic gets worse and more restrictions are imposed.
  • Vaccines: Canada will be among the first countries to get Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S.-based drug maker says as it seeks approval for emergency use in the United States and Europe. Health Canada has not yet approved Moderna’s drug or any other vaccines Ottawa has ordered. Here’s a primer on the current status of those vaccines.

Vancouver, Nov. 30: A masked man walks past a mural.

Marissa Tiel/The Canadian Press

THE LOCAL PICTURE

  • B.C.: Top health official Bonnie Henry is standing by her order to suspend in-person religious services after three Fraser Valley churches defied it this past weekend, and one was fined $2,300. “I do not believe, at all, that we are affecting people’s ability to [practise their religion] under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Dr. Henry says.
  • Alberta: Non-urgent surgeries may have to be cancelled on a “widespread” scale as the province’s top 15 hospitals near full capacity with COVID-19 cases, Premier Jason Kenney says. Edmonton cancelled about 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries in October.


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 from abroad, 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 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 typical 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 reason for this is that, whereas SARS carriers generally knew they were sick, carriers of the new coronavirus can be contagious before symptoms develop. Some people may recover from COVID-19 without ever knowing they were infected, and don’t realize until later that they spread the virus to others.

Testing

Health officials in Canada and other countries have a variety of tests to make sure whether a patient has COVID-19 or some other illness. Getting a test in person generally involves a health professional taking a sample from inside your nasal cavity using a swab. Depending on where you live in Canada, tests 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.

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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