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

Glasses and funds raised for Shuswap non-profits

Women Who Wine hold hybrid community giving event

Truck, Shuswap police vehicle collide during arrest of wanted man

Emergency response team and helicopter called out to assist in Chase area arrest

COVID 19: Secwépemc Nation calls for better notification processes

Chiefs say alerts for First Nations bands from province, Interior Health flawed

Salmon Arm Silverbacks face off against Vees in first of BCHL exhibition games

Games part of extended training camp leading to regular season start in December

Shuswap search and rescue crew respond to dirt biker injured on Mount Ida

North Vancouver man transported to hospital for treatment of injuries

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

16 COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health region

One person is in hospital and 34 people are isolating

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Stolen vehicle recovered from site of Vernon manhunt for wanted man

Police return to Brooks Lane in response to reports of suspicious vehicle

Popular South Okanagan cafe shuts its doors

Saint Germaine Cafe and Gallery served its last latte Sept. 19

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna woman to run from Vernon to Penticton for mental health awareness

Melissa Gosse’s 100-kilometre ultramarathon will raise funds for Canadian Mental Health Association

Film that explores themes of missing Indigenous women to screen in Kelowna

Rustic Oracle is the story of a missing teenage Indigenous girl, told through the eyes of her seven-year-old sister

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Most Read