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About Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some that cause illness in people and others that cause illness in animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact.

Novel (new) coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.

However, there have been two specific coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans and which have caused severe illness in humans:


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS CoV)
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV)
Symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection
A novel coronavirus causing pneumonia has been detected in Wuhan, China. Symptoms have included:

difficulty breathing
If you have traveled to Wuhan, China and develop symptoms of 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection, avoid contact with others and follow-up with your health care professional.

Tell your health care professional:

your symptoms
where you have been travelling or living
if you have had direct contact with animals (for example: visited a live animal market)
if you have had close contact with a sick person, especially if they have had fever, cough or difficulty breathing
How coronavirus infections are diagnosed
Coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms and laboratory tests.

In some cases, travel history may be important.

Using the genetic information provided by China, Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory has developed diagnostic tests for the 2019 novel Coronavirus and is collaborating with provinces and territories to test patient samples for the virus.

Coronavirus infection treatment
For now, there is no specific treatments for most people with coronavirus infection. Most people with common coronavirus illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

Consult your health care provider as soon as possible if you are concerned about your symptoms or have a travel history to a region where severe coronaviruses are known to occur. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chances are for recovery.

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Coronaviruses – Current situation

On December 31, 2019, a cluster of cases of pneumonia was reported in Wuhan, China, and the cause has been confirmed as a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. This virus is now known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.

The current situation is evolving. More information is expected to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

How Canada is monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection
The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with international partners, including the World Health Organization, to actively monitor the situation.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer of Canada is in close contact with provincial and territorial Chief Medical Officers of Health to ensure that Canada is prepared to rapidly identify and manage 2019-nCoV should it arrive in Canada.

Risk to Canadians
The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with 2019-nCoV in Wuhan, China as low for Canada and for Canadian travelers.

Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.