What is COVID-19 and how does it impact you?

This blog post is designed to give you an overview of COVID-19 and how it impacts you. The information in these FAQs was taken from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization. 

In light of all the coverage of COVID-19, CanFASD would like to provide you with some information during this difficult time. We will be posting a series of blogs and social media posts throughout the week that we hope are helpful. Remember, you can always get up to date information about COVID-19 from a number of reputable sources, including: 

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory infections in humans. COVID-19 is the official name for the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Other symptoms may include aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and/or diarrhea. Approximately 80% of people recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Some people become infected but do not experience symptoms and do not feel unwell.  

How does COVID-19 spread?

You can catch COVID-19 from other people who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small water droplets from the nose or mouth that are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. You can catch the virus by breathing in droplets from someone with COVID-19 or by touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The most recent research suggests that COVID-19 is not spread through the air. 

How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces? 

The length the virus can survive on surfaces depends on environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, or the type of surface. Studies suggest that COVID-19 can persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. If you think a surface has been contaminated, disinfect it with a regular household cleaner or disinfectant. 

How does COVID-19 impact individuals with FASD? 

This is a very new disease, so we’re still learning the impact it has on people. Researchers do know that older persons, persons with compromised immune systems, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, appear to experience serious illness more often than others. Individuals with FASD may have a weakened immune system, which makes them more susceptible to illness. Individuals with FASD who have these conditions may be at greater risk for COVID-19.  

How serious is COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 to be low for the general population. However, this could change rapidly. Approximately 80% of the people who are infected by COVID-19 recover. Those who are 65 years and older, those with compromised immune systems, and those with underlying medical conditions are at the highest risk. 

How do I protect myself? 

  • Practice good hygiene
    • Regularly wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based disinfectant 
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces with household cleaners or disinfectant, including: 
    • Toys
    • Phones
    • Toilets
    • Electronics
    • Door handles
    • Television remotes
    • Bedside tables
  • Self isolate if you begin to experience symptoms; if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19; or if you have just returned from travel abroad. 
  • Self-monitor if you have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means monitoring yourself for symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. 
  • Practice social distancing. Stay home if you are able to and avoid crowds and large gatherings. Try to maintain a space of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.

What do I do if I feel unwell? 

Stay home if you begin to feel unwell, even if you experience mild symptoms like a headache or runny nose. If you start to experience more severe symptoms such as a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, contact your local health agency. Be sure to call prior to going to a health care facility to reduce the chance of exposure and transmission. Many local and provincial health agencies have free 24/7 phone lines to help you get the advice you need. By connecting with medical care early you can reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection. 

Why is everything shutting down? 

The Canadian Government is implementing community measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. These measures include public gathering cancellations, school closures, workplace measures and closures, and avoiding crowding. These cancellations and closures may be disappointing, overwhelming, and stressful, but they are necessary steps to protecting the health of Canadians. 

Credit: Huffington Post

You may have seen the term #FlattenTheCurve spread through social media. This term refers to the above graph. Without public health interventions, the speed and severity of the disease can spread quite quickly through the community, overloading our health care systems. When we put protective measures in place, the virus spreads more slowly through the community, which means that the number of people impacted at one given time does not overload the capacity of our health care system. This means that we have the doctors, nurses, and health care resources we need to take care of everyone who is sick.

Remember: there is a lot of false information spreading around social media regarding COVID-19. Stay up to date with evidence-based information from your local government or health agency. Avoid repeating information if you are unsure of its source. Do not perpetuate stigma or stereotypes.  

Stay safe and healthy everyone! 

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