What is COVID-19?


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in humans ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of virus that has not been previously identified in humans. In some cases, illness caused by novel coronavirus can be mild. In more severe cases, the novel coronavirus can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, severe influenza-like illness, kidney failure and even death.


If you would like to learn more, an online course about COVID-19 is available.

COVID-19 Symptons

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to more severe. Some symptoms are similar to the flu and other common respiratory infections.

  • fever
  • new onset of cough
  • chills
  • unexplained fatigue
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • stuffy or congested nose
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pink eye
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain), or
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite


Older adults may also experience symptoms like:

  • Chills
  • Delirium
  • Falls
  • Acute Functional Decline
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Decreased Blood Pressure


In more severe cases, complications from COVID-19 can include pneumonia, kidney failure, or in some cases, death.

The risk of developing severe disease from COVID-19 may be higher if you have a weakened immune system. This may be the case for:

  • older people;
  • anyone with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease.

Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. 

COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols (smaller droplets) created when an infected person: talks, sings, shouts, coughs, or sneezes.

COVID-19 can also spread by touching something that has the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. You can transmit COVID-19 before you start showing symptoms or without ever developing symptoms.

The World Health Organization advises that symptoms may appear in as few as two days, or as long as 10 to 14 days, after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. This time period is subject to change and may be updated as new information becomes available.


Commonly Asked Questions:


How Does COVID-19 Spread?




Can you catch COVID-19 via stool?

Community Cluster in Grey Bruce Video

  • On December 31st, 2019, China reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province. A novel coronavirus was eventually identified. 
  • By January 13th, 2020 officials confirm the first recorded case outside of China in Thailand.
  • By March 13th, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a world wide pandemic.
  • The first case of COVID-19 reported in Canada became ill on January 15, 2020 (date of symptom onset).

World Map for COVID-19


A Timeline of COVID-19 Events is available from the World Health Organization.

Who is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19?


The following groups are considered at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Adults in their 60’s and over
  • People with weakened immune systems from a medical treatment such as chemotherapy or medical condition such as cancer
  • People with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, cerebrovascular disease (e.g. past stroke)


Other vulnerable populations may also be considered at increased risk:

  • People who are homeless
  • People who use drugs
  • People who smoke and/or vape
  • People who have developmental challenges
  • People with unmanaged mental illness


For more information see How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19: Older Adults and People with Chronic Medical Conditions or Weakened Immune Systems from Public Health Ontario.

COVID-19 and Accessing Health Care Services


The Ministry of Health strongly recommends that adults aged 65 years and older, people who have underlying medical conditions, and people who are immunocompromised stay at home.


Self-isolation means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Essential reasons to leave home include: to access food or medications and to seek medical attention. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.


If you need help, call 2-1-1 or visit The Do, a project by United Way Grey Bruce to match those who are in need of help with volunteers. A resource list is also available on the page, I need help.


Self-Assessment Tool

Use the Assessment Tool to help you understand what steps you should take to protect your health. 

If you have new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, visit the page, I think I have COVID-19. What should I do? to learn more and about where to get tested at Assessment Centres in the Grey Bruce.


Guidance for Cannabis Use During COVID-19

Vaping and COVID-19: Information for people who use e-cigarettes

Tobacco Use and COVID-19: Information for people who smoke


  • People who smoke or vape may be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.


  • Smoking and vaping also increases the risk of serious lung conditions such as pneumonia and may worsen symptoms associated with COVID-19. Research shows that smokers with severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 have a greater likelihood of being admitted to an ICU, requiring a ventilator or dying compared to non-smokers.


  • The act of smoking or vaping increases the risk of transmission of the virus from your hand to your mouth.


  • Sharing cigarettes, water pipes, or vaping devices can spread COVID-19 between people. Maintain a physical distance of at least 2m from others and avoid sharing these products.


Smokers' Helpline

Take this opportunity to quit now. For professional cessation support for smoking or vaping, call the Smoker’s Help line at 1-877-513-5333 or visit Smoker’s Help line website.


Talk Tobacco

Talk Tobacco is an Indigenous Program to Quit smoking and Vaping through Smoker’s Helpline:

For help and information on quitting smoking, and vaping and commercial tobacco use call 1 833 998-8255 (TALK).


There is also help available to learn positive coping strategies. Visit the new portal “Wellness Together Canada" for access to free online courses, resources, tools, and confidential phone or chat sessions with trained professionals.


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