Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus

Published by the Quebec government March 30

What is COVID-19?

It’s a disease caused by a coronavirus, a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract. It is transmitted from one person to another. A pandemic occurs when a new virus spreads throughout the world. Since humans are not protected against the new virus, a greater number of people become sick.

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Transmission of the virus

It’s very easily transmitted by tiny droplets that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If the person covers their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, the droplets will land in their elbow, upper arm, mask, tissue or handkerchief.

We can become infected when:

• Our eyes, nose or mouth is in contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes

• We touch a contaminated object or surface with our hands then touch our face Symptoms develop on average from 5 to 7 days after contamination, but may appear between 2 and 12 days. To be prudent, 14 days of isolation is recommended.

Coronavirus propagates during close contact between people.

Close contact can occur when:

• Someone lives in the same home as an infected person

• Someone provides care to an infected person

• People gather in public places and meetings

Persons at risk

80% of infected individuals recover without any special treatment.

Some are at risk of dying from severe respiratory complications such as pneumonia or acute respiratory syndrome.


The disease can resemble the common cold or be much more like severe respiratory diseases.

Frequent symptoms: cough, fever, extreme fatigue

Severe symptoms (1 case out of 6) Difficulty breathing (dyspnea), pneumonia, sudden loss of sense of smell

What should I do when I have symptoms?

• Stay at home and avoid contact with others

• Wash your hands frequently

• Follow good respiratory hygiene practices:

• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

• Call the 1-877-644-4545 coronavirus hotline to report your symptoms and follow the instructions you are given

• If you have major difficulty breathing, call 911

Prevention, protection and health advice

There is currently no known treatment or vaccine for coronavirus. Prevention is the only way to protect yourself and protect others.

Avoid contact

Always remain 2 metres away from others. If a close friend or family member shows symptoms, avoid contact with their personal objects such as glassware, dishes.

Wash your hands often

Frequent hand washing is the best way to protect yourself and others.

When should I wash my hands?

• Before I touch my face (eyes, mouth, nose)

• After I cough, sneeze or blow my nose

• Before and after I provide care to a close friend or family member

• When my hands are visibly dirty or after I touch a dirty object

• Before and after I prepare meals

• Before and after I eat

• After using the toilet

What do I use to wash my hands?

It is recommended to wash hands with lukewarm water and soap or with a 60%- 70% alcohol-based gel, foam or liquid sanitizer.

Wear a protective mask

Wearing a protective mask is recommended if you are coughing or sneezing around other people. The mask will help to prevent contaminating them. Wearing a mask when you have no symptoms is not recommended.

Precautions and care


If you have symptoms, feel weak and fatigued, rest will help you fight the disease. Limit your contact with others until you have no more symptoms.

Drink frequently

Frequent drinking is important because fever causes perspiration and a major loss of liquids. You should drink at least 1.5 litres of liquids daily. You can drink cold or warm liquids. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as well as soft drinks. Alcohol and caffeine will cause you to urinate more and increase loss of liquids.

Watch out for these signs of dehydration: Extreme thirst;

Dry mouth and tongue;  Infrequent and/or dark urine; Dizziness, confusion and headaches

Protect those living with you

If you have symptoms: Self-isolate in a bedroom to avoid contaminating others; Sleep and eat meals alone in your bedroom; Only use one bathroom; Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Wash your hands right after. Throw away tissues into a garbage bag in a trash can with a lid. Do not allow visitors in the house

Keep your environment clean

The disease can survive for the following lengths of time on objects and surfaces:

• 3 hours on dry surfaces

• 6 days on moist surfaces

Therefore, it is important that you clean counters, sinks, door handles and all other surfaces frequently touched by hands. Cleaning and disinfecting are very efficient ways of eliminating the virus.

Use soap and water or household cleaners to clean surfaces. Use a 1/9 bleach-water solution or disinfectants. This means 10 ml of bleach to 90 ml of water.

If you are sick, your sheets, towels, cloths and dishware can be washed with those of others in the home using normal detergents.

Medication for relieving symptoms

Use medication intelligently. If you have no complications, treatment does not require special medication.

Over-the-counter medication

Over-the-counter medication can be used to relieve the symptoms. Read the label carefully and only take the recommended dose. Ask your pharmacist for instructions before taking over-the-counter medication when you have symptoms.

Do not take medications with the same ingredients at the same time such as Tylenol® and Tylenol Sinus®. Avoid using nasal decongestants and nasal washes in case of loss of sense of smell.

If you have other health problems, ask your pharmacist for advice or call Info-Santé 811 before taking over-the-counter medication.


NSAID anti-inflammatories used to alleviate fever that contain ibuprofen, such as Advil® and Motrin® may aggravate the disease but this information comes from clinical observations and has not been confirmed. If you are already taking anti- inflammatories and test positive for coronavirus, speak with your pharmacist, doctor or specialized nurse practitioner.

Relieving symptoms Fever

Fever is one of the body’s defence mechanisms that help fight infection. Acetaminophen is recommended to reduce fever and make you more comfortable unless your health professional advice against it or you are allergic.

Fever is defined as follows:

• Adults: 38 °C (100.4 °F) and more (oral temperature)

• Seniors: 37.8 °C (100 °F) and more (oral temperature)


• 1.1 °C higher than normal

Sore throat

• Gargle with a glass of salt water: 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp.) of salt in 250 ml (1 cup) of lukewarm water (do not swallow)

• Hard candy and/or lozenges, preferably sugar-free, may also relieve a sore throat

If you are sent to be examined by a health professional, be sure to take a complete current list of all your medications.

If medications are prescribed:

• Be sure to follow recommended doses and other instructions

• Reach out to your pharmacist or doctor if a problem arises when taking your meds

• Always keep your medication in a dry location

If you are worried or display symptoms such as a cough or fever, call 418-644-4545, 514-644-4545, 450-644-4545, 819-644-4545 and 1-877-644-4545 (toll free) elsewhere in Québec.

If you have symptoms such as a cough or fever:

• Do not go to a medical clinic unless you have first obtained an appointment.

• If your condition allows you to do so, call 1-877-644-4545. If you are a traveller who has returned within less than 14 days, mention it.

• Visit the emergency room only if you have difficulty breathing (you have difficulty breathing when resting or light activity,)

This guide and coronavirus updates are available at

The information provided in this document is based on a situation that evolves rapidly. Changes could possibly occur.

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