Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Others 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 coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.
At this time, this strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) does not appear to be as severe as other coronaviruses, such as SARS. Many patients have reported only mild symptoms. There is evidence of person-to-person spread.
Actions being taken
Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are carefully monitoring the situation and will be able to respond effectively should there be any cases in Alberta. They are working to ensure front-line health professionals have information about the virus so they can take recommended actions and promptly report suspected cases to public health officials.
Alberta’s public health officials are:
- monitoring the situation in Canada, China and around the world
- working closely with health authorities to share info and assess potential health risks
- ensuring our health system is ready to respond effectively if needed
Although travel-related cases may be identified, the risk for Albertans is still considered low. Public health measures are in place to quickly identify potential cases and prevent the infection from spreading.
There are many common respiratory viruses circulating in Alberta and globally, such as influenza. This will be the most likely cause of a respiratory infection, unless the ill person recently returned from an area where the novel coronavirus is circulating.
To help protect against all respiratory illnesses, including the flu and coronavirus, you should:
- use good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing
- stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
- consult the Travel Health Notice for China before leaving the country if travelling abroad
- contact your primary health provider or 811 Health Link if you have questions or concerns about your health
Symptoms for the novel coronavirus are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses. They can range from mild to severe and include:
- difficulty breathing
- pneumonia and kidney failure
The majority of cases have reported mild symptoms. However, there is a risk of death in severe cases.
For now, there is no specific vaccines for the novel coronavirus infection.
Most people infected with common respiratory viruses will recover on their own, but some may receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Your health care provider may recommend ways to relieve your specific symptoms.
Consult 811 Health Link or your health care provider if:
- you’re concerned about your health, or
- you’re feeling ill and recently travelled to Hubei province, China, or an area where novel coronaviruses are known to circulate