Some current information was sent to the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians from Indigenous Services regarding the Coronavirus. We are sharing this information with you to assist and help with any questions you may have.
WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that come from animals but can cause respiratory illness in humans. Coronavirus infections are common and usually mild, for example they can cause the common cold. Symptoms are usually mild to moderate and can include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and feeling unwell. More uncommonly, coronaviruses can also cause serious illness such as pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure, or even death.
WHY IS THIS CORONAVIRUS “NEW”?
After several people in China became sick, all the tests for known viruses, such as influenza, were negative. This new virus had not been identified previously and therefore is ‘new’.
WHO IS AT RISK?
At this time it appears that people who have been in China, especially the city of Wuhan, are most at risk of being infected. People who are older (65 years) or who have heart or lung problems appear to be at risk of more severe disease. People in Canada who have not been travelling to China are not considered to be at risk.
HOW IS THE VIRUS SPREAD?
This virus, like other respiratory viruses, is probably spread when people sneeze or cough into their hands and transfer virus to surfaces like water taps, door handles, and table tops. When other people touch these surfaces and then their nose or eyes, they become infected with the virus. It is not known if it can be spread through the air or through other ways.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
There is no specific treatment for any coronavirus infection. Very ill people who need to be in hospital receive “supportive care”, which means treating the patient’s symptoms, such as giving fluids and oxygen until the patient’s immune system can remove the virus.
HOW CAN PEOPLE PREVENT GETTING SICK WITH THIS VIRUS?
Like all respiratory infections, there are things that people can do to protect themselves and others. Washing your hands frequently is most important. When coughing or sneezing, do not sneeze or cough into your hands but into your sleeve. If you use a tissue, put it in the garbage after use and wash your hands afterward. If you are sick, stay at home and monitor your condition. There is no evidence that face masks prevent illness and they are not recommended at this time. Anyone with worsening symptoms of a respiratory infection of any kind should contact their health provider.
WHAT IS INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA – ONTARIO REGION DOING?
The communicable disease team has been closely monitoring the situation since learning of the discovery of the new virus and
the illnesses in China. ISC have provided information to nursing stations and health centres about the virus, and what to do if the providers suspect that someone could have this infection, even though it is not likely at this time. This includes reaching out to the communicable disease team for guidance on assessing patients and possible testing if the person has been to China. ISC is receiving updates regularly from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, and provincial public health units.