Coronavirus

Information for Fraser Health-area residents about the novel coronavirus (named COVID-19)

At Fraser Health, the health of our residents is our top priority. 

At this time, the novel coronavirus (named COVID-19 - its official name) situation continues to evolve. Fraser Health Population and Public Health is working closely with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor the national and provincial novel coronavirus situation.

The most up-to-date information about novel coronavirus can be found through informed, evidence-based sources like this one. The Public Health Agency of Canada has created a toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) to answer questions from Canadians about novel coronavirus as well. 

The virus

  • There are reports that this new virus is like SARS. Is this true?

    There is still a lot we don’t know about the novel coronavirus. 

    The virus is from the same family of coronaviruses as the SARS virus. However, there are some important genetic differences from the SARS virus. 

    While many of the characteristics of the novel coronavirus are still unknown, mild to severe illness has been reported for confirmed cases. Until more is understood about the virus, older people and people with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition are considered at higher risk of severe disease.

  • What about reports that it is now believed that novel coronavirus can spread by people who are infected but who are not showing any symptoms?

    At this point, most cases have been linked to transmission from a person with symptoms, and there are no unequivocal cases of asymptomatic transmission. 

  • How is novel coronavirus treated?

    There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, and there is no vaccine that protects against coronaviruses.

What can I do?

  • What can I do to protect myself and my friends or family?

    Follow the same procedures as what is recommended during cold and flu season. This includes washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding others who are unwell; and staying home when you are sick.

  • Should I get a mask?

    If you are sick, the use of a surgical mask can contain the droplets and reduce the risk to others by preventing droplets from going out into the air when you cough or sneeze. 

    If you are not sick, wearing a mask may be less effective, especially since it is not known how effective they are at keeping the novel coronavirus out.  

    Health care workers wear masks, eye protection and gowns in order to protect themselves and other patients – especially during health care procedures, for example, when giving certain inhaled medications. 

     
  • If I have recently travelled back from China, should I self-isolate or stay home from public places?

    We are recommending individuals returning from Hubei Province (which includes Wuhan City) to self-isolate for 14 days from when they left Hubei Province. 

    People who have self-isolated can return to normal activities after 14 days if they have not developed any symptoms.

    Individuals returning from all other areas of China do not need to self-isolate, but should self-monitor for symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Those who feel unwell should see their health care provider. 

  • If I have not left BC, should I be worried about becoming ill from the novel coronavirus?

    No. The risk of spread of this virus in BC remains low at this time. There is no evidence that there is general spread of the virus in the community.

Novel coronavirus in BC

  • How is novel coronavirus tested for?

    The BC Centre for Disease Control Public Health Laboratory (PHL) has developed a test for novel coronavirus and can conduct testing for those with symptoms and a suspect travel history.

    Positive novel coronavirus tests at the PHL are confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML). 


  • Is it safe to go out in public (eg. to work, ride the bus, and go to a swimming pool or recreation centre)?

    Yes. Follow the same procedures as what is recommended during cold and flu season. This includes washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding others who are unwell; and staying home when you are sick.

    WorkSafeBC is currently not recommending any special precautions for employers, workers and worksites, other than those already in place for seasonal flu.

    Although BC has identified cases of novel coronavirus infection, there is no evidence of circulation of the virus in the general population, so going out in public is safe.

     
  • Shouldn’t people who have travelled to China be excluded from public places? (e.g., to work, school, child care)?

    Out of an abundance of caution, public health officials are recommending that individuals who have been in Hubei Province of China in the last 14 days should self-isolate until 14 days have passed from their last visit to Hubei.

    Travellers to other parts of China outside Hubei Province in the last 14 days do not need to self-isolate, but should self-monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. If a returning traveller develops symptoms, they should stay home and call their health care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up. 

  • One of the BC cases travelled to Iran and now has novel coronavirus, what does that mean for who should be tested?

    Iran has reported several cases and some deaths due to the novel coronavirus. Official guidance from the BCCDC regarding affected areas has not changed.

    As the novel coronavirus situation evolves, affected areas will change and guidance on who should be tested will change. 

  • How do you ensure that people who are told to self-isolate, actually self-isolate? What if they were to go out in public, like to a local grocery store, would I be at risk?

    Public Health asks three groups of individuals to self-isolate. The first group are confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and a second group are asymptomatic close contacts of a confirmed novel coronavirus case and asymptomatic travelers from areas severely affected by coronavirus. These two groups are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and are called daily by a Public Health nurse who monitors their health, as well as behaviours (if they have been out in public). If individuals in these two groups do not self-isolate, Public Health can use legal powers under the Public Health Act to ensure that self-isolation occurs. 

    The third group asked to self-isolate are low risk individuals who are tested for novel coronavirus. These individuals are asked to self-isolate for typically 96 hours until they receive their novel coronavirus testing results.

    The spread of novel coronavirus occurs with sustained close contact with an affected individual, for example, sitting in a car on a long trip, or living in the same household. Grocery stores – which are open and where people tend to walk around – are unlikely places to allow for virus spread.

  • Are incoming travellers been screened for novel coronavirus?

    Incoming travellers are screened at all borders – land, sea and air. The federal government has advised people who have travelled to affected areas and feel unwell to see a doctor.

  • I recently received something in the mail that I ordered from China. Could I catch the virus from it?

    No. There is no evidence to suggest that goods imported from China can transmit the virus.

School, daycare and workplaces

  • Should my school or workplace take special precautions to protect against novel coronavirus?

    No. There is no need to take special precautions. 

    Schools, workplaces and other organizations should continue to use common recommended practices to prevent the spread of illnesses during the winter season. For example, regular handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. 

     
  • A student at my child's school/daycare just came back from China, what should I do? And what should the school do?

    We understand that parents are concerned about the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus situation, and that information continuously changes; however, we urge individuals to resist making assumptions about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

    Our recommendations to school/daycare administrators and staff are: 

    • Students or staff returning from Hubei Province, China should consider staying home for 14 days after they left Hubei. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms, should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
    • Students or staff, who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus should consider staying home for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
    • Students or staff who have been in other parts of China (outside Hubei Province) should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough for 14 days. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

    Compliance with these recommendations are voluntary. School administrators, staff, and parents are not expected to enforce or monitor them. 

     
  • Some parents have received a letter from Fraser Health through the local school board. If I have received this letter should I be concerned?

    Fraser Health has reached out to all of our school districts to share information about the latest case and to reassure people that the risk still remains low. This is usual practice to ensure all of our communities have the information they need.

  • An employee just came back from China and is returning to work, as an employer what should I do? 

    WorkSafeBC is advising employers and workers that special precautions for the coronavirus are not required, beyond the recommended measures to prevent common respiratory viruses.

    For employees returning from China, we recommend:

    • Employees returning from Hubei Province, China should consider staying home for 14 days after they left Hubei. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Those who develop symptoms, should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
    • Employees who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus should consider staying home for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
    • Employees who have been in other parts of China (outside Hubei Province) should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough for 14 days. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

    Compliance with these recommendations are voluntary. Employers and co-workers are not expected to enforce or monitor them. 

    As an employer, you can actively encourage all employees to practice respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene at your worksite, and advise employees to stay home when they are sick.

    A note from a physician confirming the novel coronavirus status of an employee should not be necessary. 

     

Our response

  • What is being done in Fraser Health to protect residents from novel coronavirus? 

    In addition to keeping you informed via this Q&A, Fraser Health has organizational structures, plans and processes in place to address and monitor emerging issues like this one. We are working in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control

    The critical steps to ensure the safety of Fraser Health residents include: early identification of cases, prompt isolation, testing and monitoring. Each of these steps are currently being taken and will continue as part of the novel coronavirus response.

  • Why did the World Health Organization (WHO) declare a public health emergency of international concern?

    The WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern due to the evolving situation in Hubei Province, China, and the importation of cases to other countries. Their decision will result in increased resources to support lower-resource countries managing imported cases.