COVID-19: What You Need to Know
Last updated: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020
What is COVID-19?
“COVID-19” is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It’s a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses most often found in animals. In humans, coronaviruses cause a range of diseases from the common cold to more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The new coronoavirus was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including Alberta. It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th, 2020.
In severe cases, COVID-19 can be fatal, particularly for elderly individuals or those with underlying health conditions.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms are similar to the flu:
- Dry Cough
- Fatigue / Extreme tiredness
Serious symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pneumonia (lung inflammation)
What should I do if I think I have the COVID-19 virus?
Alberta Health Services (AHS) has developed a simple online screening tool (ahs.ca/covid) to help you decide whether you need to call 811 to be tested for COVID-19. It will guide you to answer questions about your symptoms and instruct you on the next steps.
If you have symptoms, stay home, complete the self-assessment, and follow the instructions it provides. If you have symptoms and are unable to complete the online screening tool, call Health Link 811 to speak to a nurse. Do not go to an emergency room, family doctor or walk-in clinic if you have symptoms.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 for immediate medical attention.
How does the virus spread?
COVID-19 is transmitted person-to-person through droplets from a cough or sneeze or through touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?
To protect yourself and others:
- Wash your hands frequently (Here’s How)
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Avoid touching your face
- Stay at home and away from others if you feel ill, self-isolate for 14 days
- All gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled
- People are encouraged to give each other two metres of space
Where can I find out about resources for Albertans?
Many services in Alberta are changing rapidly in response to COVID-19. Contact 211 for information about available services, or check the Resources for COVID-19 in Alberta list, which is updated by 211’s community resource database team 7 days a week.
To reach 211, dial 2-1-1, text INFO to 211 or visit www.ab.211.ca and click “live chat.” You’ll reach someone who can work with you to see what community services are currently available in your area.
Where can I find up-to-date information about COVID-19?
Information for Albertans
COVID-19 Coronoavirus Info for Albertans – alberta.ca/covid19 (Government of Alberta)
Updates on actions being taken to protect the health of Albertans, details about the number of people in Alberta with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and advisories on what Albertans can do to protect themselves and others. Visit this page for daily updates on the situation in Alberta.
COVID-19 Online Screening Tool – ahs.ca/covid (Alberta Health Services)
A simple tool that you can use if you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19. Once you’ve completed the questions, the self-assessment tool will provide you with instructions on next steps.
Medical Advice for Albertans
A telephone service, which provides free 24/7 nurse advice and general health information for Albertans.
Please note, Health Link 811 is currently experiencing very high call volumes. For info on COVID-19, consider using one of the other resources listed instead of calling 811, if you do not need a health assessment. Use the online screening tool to determine whether you need to call 811.
A new telemedicine service providing Albertans with access to a licensed physician online. It’s free of charge at this time to reduce the impacts of COVID-19.
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
To access: Visit purposemed.com and click “Get Started.” You’ll be asked to verify your location and a chat will be initiated. You’ll need your email address and Alberta Health Care number ready. After you agree to the terms and conditions, you’ll be able to join the clinic room and wait for a physician to initiate a video or call with you.
Information for Canadians
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Information – canada.ca/covid19 (Government of Canada)
Updates on the situation across Canada, including current cases, the risk to Canadians, and travel advisories, as well as information on symptoms, prevention and treatment, and printable resources and downloads.
Novel Coronavirus Information Line (Government of Canada)
A toll-free phone line providing information to Canadians about COVID-19. Dial 1-833-784-4397
WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak Web Page (World Health Organization)
The latest updates and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) about the current outbreak of coronavirus disease world-wide. Visit this page for daily updates on the worldwide situation.
Where can I get emotional support if I feel overwhelmed?
Local Talk, Text or Chat Services for Albertans
Distress Line Edmonton & Northern Alberta (Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region)
The Distress Line provides confidential, non-judgmental and short-term crisis intervention, emotional support and resources to people in crisis or distress. They also support family, friends and caregivers of people in crisis.
Edmonton and Area (24/7): 780-482-HELP (4357)
Toll-Free (24/7): 1-800-232-7288
Online Crisis Chat: Click Here
24 Hour Crisis Line Calgary and Southern Alberta (Distress Centre Calgary)
Distress Centre Calgary provides 24 hour crisis support in Calgary and southern Alberta through a 24-hour crisis line, email and daily chat and talk, text or chat services for youth through Connecteen.
Main Crisis Line (24/7) :(403) 266-HELP (4357)
Daily Chat Support: Distress Centre
Distress & Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta (Canadian Mental Health Association – Alberta South Region)
A 24 Hour phone support for individuals experiencing a crisis in southwestern Alberta. 24 hours, 7 days a week telephone support for people who are in distress and require support, intervention and/or information and referral services.
24/7 Crisis Line Fort McMurray & Northeastern Alberta (Some Other Solutions Society for Crisis Prevention)
Provides emotional support to individuals struggling with life’s challenges and crisis situations 24 hours per day. This is a confidential, anonymous, and non-judgmental service to those in crisis in Fort McMurray and Northeastern Alberta. Listeners meet people in their current state and provide them with a safe space to share their distress, and find the hope and the means to move forward.
Wood’s Homes is a nationally-recognized children’s mental health centre based in Calgary, AB. Programs include 24/7 crisis counselling via telephone/text/live chat and mobile response, as well as no charge/walk-in counselling for families, couples and individuals.
Text (9 a.m. – 10 p.m.): 587-315-5000
Live Chat (9 a.m. – 10 p.m.): Click Here
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