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Venice, Feb. 24: Tourists with face masks pose for selfies in front of the Rialto bridge in Venice after the carnival was canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak.

ANDREA PATTARO/AFP via Getty Images

The latest

  • Chinese authorities relaxed some travel restrictions and launched a “back to work tide” at factories on Monday, hoping to revive an economy stalled by the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected more than 77,000 people and killed more than 2,600 in the country.
  • The fastest-spreading outbreak beyond Asia is in Italy, where seven deaths and more than 200 infections have been reported as of Monday. Travel restrictions have put several towns in Lombardy into lockdown, threatening to push the Italian economy (whose growth was already sluggish before the outbreak) into recession.
  • B.C. and Ontario each reported one new presumptive case on Monday and Sunday, respectively, bringing the number of Canadian diagnoses to 11. That doesn’t include the Canadians diagnosed on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japanese coast. Those 47 patients remain in Japan for treatment, while 129 others from the Diamond Princess were brought back to Cornwall, Ont., for quarantine.


What does this virus do?

The new virus that emerged last December in China – officially called COVID-19, previously known as 2019-nCoV, and informally dubbed the “Wuhan virus” after the city where it was found – is a coronavirus, a common type of infection among humans and animals. 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 coronavirus, but the Wuhan virus’s symptoms (severe coughing, fever and muscle pain) resemble the more serious and dangerous types, such as SARS and MERS.

Much is still unknown about COVID-19. Check The Globe and Mail’s guide compiling health officials’ advice for people who are travelling, sick or have questions about the virus.

HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS

INFECT A PERSON?

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

Runny nose

Sore throat

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

HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS INFECT A PERSON?

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

Runny nose

Sore throat

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

HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS INFECT A PERSON?

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

Runny nose

Sore throat

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


What China has done

Wuhan, Jan. 28: People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street, the result of unprecedented travel restrictions in the city and other populated areas around it.

Arek Rataj/The Associated Press

China’s response to the virus is one of the largest-scale public health mobilizations ever seen, with tens of millions affected by quarantine measures. Here are some of the steps officials have taken.

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  • Cutting off Wuhan and environs: China’s government suspended travel to and from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and more than a dozen nearby cities in Hubei province. Even local public transit was shut down to prevent the spread of the disease. Some local transit restrictions began to lift on Feb. 24, when China instituted a “back to work tide” to restart factories and businesses and reverse the economic slump caused by the outbreak.
  • Extending the holidays: The initial outbreak coincided with the Lunar New Year travel season, one of the largest annual migrations of people on Earth. To slow down post-holiday travel that could spread the virus, China extended the holiday, known locally as the Spring Festival, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.
  • Banning the animal trade: Given the virus’s suspected connection to a wild game and seafood market in Wuhan, the Chinese government has outlawed the sale of all wild animals in China until more is known about how the coronavirus crossed the species barrier.

The Globe in China: Nathan VanderKlippe on the outbreak

Coronavirus outbreak thrusts China into a mass experiment in remote work

Fast, deadly spread of virus on cruise ship and in Hubei prompts questions about response

As the coronavirus spreads, China is losing its control online

In China, officials face conflicting demands: halt coronavirus and revive the economy

China using high-tech surveillance in battle against spread of coronavirus

At the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, Western medicine meets traditional Chinese remedies


Where has it spread outside China?

1 to 9 10 to 99 101 to 1000 Over 1000 cases
Show all



Where has it spread in Canada?

Toronto, Jan. 26: Travellers wear masks at the international arrivals area at Pearson airport.

COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images

So far, there are only 11 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, seven in British Columbia and four in Ontario. But dozens more Canadians and their families fell sick aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japanese coast, which was put under a quarantine that only made the spread of the disease worse. Canadians infected aboard the ship remained in Japan for treatment, while those who were cleared were flown back to Canada and quarantined at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont.

Before the first cases appeared, Canadian health officials had put airports and hospitals on alert for possible cases, introducing screenings at airports in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Weeks after the outbreak began, Canada also chartered planes to get Canadian citizens and their families out of the affected cities in Hubei province, quarantining them for two weeks at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario.

Coronavirus and Canadians: More reading

How the cruise ship coronavirus quarantine backfired

Canadian evacuees from Wuhan pass time in quarantine at CFB Trenton with video chats, parking lot walks


SARS: What’s similar, what’s different

Toronto, 2003: A man adjusts his protective mask as he leaves the SARS Clinic at the Women's College Hospital.

Kevin Frayer/The Canadian Press

On both sides of the Pacific, the Wuhan outbreak has brought back unpleasant memories of SARS, a coronavirus that also originated in China and killed 44 people in Canada. But while the viruses may be similar, and while COVID-19 may have killed more people over all than SARS did, many of the conditions that made SARS such a threat in this country are less serious now.

The impact of SARS: After its emergence from Guangdong province, SARS spread to 8,098 people worldwide and killed 774 people worldwide, according to the U.S. CDC’s estimates. Canada was the hardest-hit country outside of Asia: Over all, 44 people were killed in Canada, and 438 Canadians were diagnosed with probable and suspected SARS. It led to billions of dollars in economic losses as visitors avoided Toronto during what came to be known as the “Spring of Fear.”

Better preparedness: Canadian health officials learned a lot from SARS about early detection of infectious diseases, and many have expressed confidence that they are better prepared this time. B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry, for instance, noted before the first Canadian case appeared that officials already developed a test for the new coronavirus and had some idea of how it progressed, which they did not when SARS first arrived in 2003.

How the viruses differ: A study in the Lancet medical journal found some important differences in how the new coronavirus and SARS spread and cause symptoms. In one family in Shenzhen, the new virus produced symptoms within four days of exposure, whereas SARS’s incubation period is as long as 10 days. A shorter incubation period means that new cases of infection can be identified and quarantined sooner, reducing the spread of infection.

Timeline of coronavirus onset

Median time from onset of symptoms*

Onset of symptoms

Hospital admission

Intensive care unit admission

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Number of days

Shortness of breath

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness

S

First sign of symptoms*

H

Attended hospital for investigation

Shenzhen

Wuhan

Shenzhen

Healthy family in Shenzhen

Visit infected family in Wuhan

Family return to Shenzhen infected

Dec. 26

Jan. 1

5

10

15

Patient 1: Mother

S

H

2: Father

S

H

3: Daughter

S

H

4: Son-in-law

S

H

5: Grandchild

H

6: Grandchild

H

Was not

infected

Did not travel to Wuhan

7: Mother of patient 4

H

S

*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET

Timeline of coronavirus onset

Median time from onset of symptoms*

Hospital admission

Intensive care unit admission

Onset of symptoms

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Number of days

Shortness of breath

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness

S

First sign of symptoms*

H

Attended hospital for investigation

Shenzhen

Wuhan

Shenzhen

Healthy family in Shenzhen

Visit infected family in Wuhan

Family return to Shenzhen infected

Dec. 26

Jan. 1

5

10

15

Patient 1: Mother

S

H

2: Father

S

H

3: Daughter

S

H

4: Son-in-law

S

H

5: Grandchild

H

6: Grandchild

H

Was not

infected

Did not travel to Wuhan

7: Mother of patient 4

H

S

*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET

Timeline of coronavirus onset

Median time from onset of symptoms*

Onset of symptoms

Hospital admission

Intensive care unit admission

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Number of days

Shortness of breath

Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness

S

H

First sign of symptoms*

Attended hospital for investigation

Shenzhen

Wuhan

Shenzhen

Healthy family in Shenzhen

Visit infected family in Wuhan

Family return to Shenzhen infected

Dec. 26

Jan. 1

5

10

15

Patient 1: Mother

S

H

2: Father

S

H

3: Daughter

S

H

4: Son-in-law

S

H

5: Grandchild

H

H

6: Grandchild

Was not

infected

Did not travel to Wuhan

7: Mother of patient 4

H

S

*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET


Further reading

On the science

Ivan Semeniuk explains: New coronavirus tests scientists’ ability to tangle with an evolutionary trickster

Race is on as coalition sets tight timeline for coronavirus vaccine

A brief history of plague panic, from the 1600s to today’s coronavirus crisis

André Picard

This coronavirus threat isn’t over. But the time to tackle the next threat is now

What Ontario didn’t learn from SARS: During a public-health crisis, we need good information, clearly communicated

There is a new coronavirus on the loose, but we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of SARS

Other commentary and analysis

Adrian Lee: For Chinese-Canadians like me, coronavirus is just the latest strain of infectious fear we’ve faced

Tony Clement: The coronavirus is now in Canada, but thanks to the lessons of SARS we are better prepared

David McKeown: Don’t let the coronavirus mutate into an epidemic of fear and panic


Compiled by Globe staff

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With reports from Nathan VanderKlippe, Carly Weeks, Ivan Semeniuk, Kelly Grant, Andrea Woo, The Associated Press, Reuters and The Canadian Press

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