The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (The Canadian Press)

Do you think you have COVID-19? Here is what to do next

Symptoms, prevention, how to get tested and what to do if you get

As COVID-19 continues to spread, health officials are urging British Columbians to ensure they take the proper steps to get tested while also not spreading the virus to others.

“Now is the time to put some distance between us to keep our germs to ourselves,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said earlier this week, reiterating crucial steps of prevention she has noted since mid-February.

The virus has spread rapidly in B.C. over the past few weeks. There have been at least 46 cases and one death. Globally, there have been more than 118,00 confirmed cases and 4,300 deaths, the majority of them in China, Italy and Iran.

ALSO READ: ‘Social distancing’ ramps up as COVID-19 spreads and economic toll mounts

That includes at least four cases of community transmission, which means it remains unclear how those cases were contracted but were not from travelling.

So how do you know if you have the novel coronavirus? How can you tell if it is COVID-19 and not the flu or cold? And most importantly: What do you do if you are, in fact, infected?

Symptoms of COVID-19:

The symptoms of the novel coronavirus are similar to a common cold or flu, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

That includes a fever and cough but most importantly difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. In severe cases, symptoms can include severe lung infections.

Health officials have warned that it can take up to 14 days, or two weeks, for symptoms to appear and can range from mild to severe. Seniors and those with underlying medical conditions are most at-risk of seeing adverse impacts if they contract the virus.

Out of precaution, health officials have made it clear: if you feel sick, stay home.

The B.C. government has now added an online assesment tool for those who think they may have the disease, and what steps they need to take based off their symptoms.

How the virus spreads:

Coronavirus is transmitted through larger liquid droplets – such as when a person coughs or sneezes. That means the virus can enter a second person’s system through their eyes, nose or throat if in close contact.

While the virus is not known to be airborne, or transmitted through the particles floating in the air, and it is not something that comes in through the skin, it can be spread by touch if a person has used their hands to cover their mouth or nose when they cough.

Health officials recommend to always cough or sneeze into the arm and wash your hands regularly. People should also avoid handshaking and hugs.

A good rule of thumb: Stay at least six feet away from another person.‎

How to get tested:

Anyone who thinks they may have the virus is being urged not to panic, and most importantly to stay home.

Anyone in B.C. who develops symptoms should first call HealthLink BC, by dialing 811, to talk to a health care worker and determine the most appropriate next steps.

The nurses at HealthLink BC will complete an exposure risk assessment of callers with compatible symptoms, such as cough or influenza-like symptoms. In some cases, nurses may suggest a caller go see a health care provider for assessment and testing, either at an urgent primary care centre or walk-in clinic.

It is highly recommend that anyone who may have COVID-19 call ahead to tell the clinicians that they are coming.

COVID-19 testing is done through a nasopharyngeal swab or throat swab.

Anyone who is tested may be told to self-isolate until the tests can be analyzed in a laboratory. Test results can be found by calling the B.C. Centre for Disease Control coronavirus hotline at 1-833-707-2792.

What happens if you have COVID-19:

Anyone with COVID-19 is being placed in quarantine, at their home or in the hospital, for at least 14 days. In order to be released from quarantine, an infected person must have two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The BC CDC suggests that if you are sharing your home to stay and sleep in a room with good airflow that is away from others. Other precautions include using a separate bathroom, if you can, avoid sharing household items, flush the toilet with the lid down, and clean and disinfect common areas once a day.

Is there a cure?

At this time, there is no vaccine for this particular coronavirus, and health officials say it could take many years to create.

There is no specific treatment, but many of the symptoms can be managed with home treatment such as drinking plenty of fluids, rest and using a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat, according to HealthLink BC.

Most people recover from coronaviruses on their own, however for people with more serious illness, supportive care in or out of hospital may be needed.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read