Search

novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: February 14, 2020

This page is a one-stop shop for all information and guidance from AHS regarding the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which was just renamed by the World Health Organization and was formerly referred to as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Please visit this page for daily updates and consider it the source of truth for Alberta Health Services.

About novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (formerly 2019-nCoV)

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 COVID-19 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.

Cases in Alberta & Canada

There are no confirmed or probable cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Alberta at this time. The number of COVID-19 tests performed and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are reported on the Alberta Health website. For the most up-to-date information, go to https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

Risk

The current level of risk for people in Alberta is considered low. Cases are being reported in many provinces in China and other parts of the world. At this time, the higher risk applies to people who develop a fever and/or a cough or shortness of breath AND meet any of the below criteria:

Travelled to mainland China in the 14 days before illness onset;

OR

Had close contact* with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 within 14 days before illness onset;

OR

Had close contact* with a person with acute respiratory illness who was in mainland China within 14 days before their illness onset;

OR

Had laboratory exposure to biological material (e.g. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19 virus within 14 days before illness onset.

* A close contact is defined as a person who provided care for the individual, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact with the person without consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment OR who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact (within 2 metres) with the person while they were infectious OR had direct contact with infectious bodily fluids of the person (e.g. was coughed or sneezed on) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.

Consult the Travel Health Notice for China before leaving the country if travelling abroad or call the COVID-19 information line at 1-833-784-4397.

Info for Travellers

Returning from Hubei Province

If you have visited China’s Hubei province in the last 14 days, we recommend you isolate yourself until two weeks have passed since that visit. This is recommended even if you are feeling well. This is a precautionary move only.

This means avoiding situations where you are in close contact with other people, especially those with chronic conditions, a compromised immune system or seniors. It also means not attending work, school, social events and other public gatherings. If you are unsure if you should be isolating yourself, or if you have questions about how to do it, follow these self-isolation guidelines or call 811 Health Link.

You should also closely watch for symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing in any family member who has been in Hubei province in the last 14 days, and call 811 Health Link if any of these symptoms begin.

Returning from other parts of mainland China

If you have travelled to mainland China in the last 14 days, please monitor yourself daily for symptoms like fever or cough up to 14 days after your last visit in China.

If, while in mainland China, you or your family members were in contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19, or were in a health care facility, please call 811 Health Link.

If you feel ill after returning from mainland China or another affected area, call your healthcare provider or 811 Health Link to receive medical advice on next steps.

Actions Being Taken

AHS and Alberta Health are carefully monitoring the situation and will be able to respond effectively should there be any cases in Alberta.

Health authorities in China and around the world have taken a comprehensive range of prevention and control measures and are continuing to investigate the suspected source of exposure, while isolating cases and tracking close contacts to prevent spread.

Prevention

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
  • contact your primary health provider or 811 Health Link if you have questions or concerns about your health

Symptoms

Symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses. They can range from mild to severe and include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia and kidney failure

The majority of cases have reported mild symptoms. However, there is a risk of death in severe cases.

AHS and Alberta Health will provide updates as new information becomes available