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What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an acute respiratory infection caused by a coronavirus strain that began spreading in people in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is a new respiratory virus and it can cause mild to severe illness in people. The COVID-19 virus is not the same as the other coronaviruses that commonly circulate among people and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
What is a Variant of Concern (VOC)?
A variant is a virus that has undergone a change or a mutation. Variants are common with coronaviruses. Some variants are considered "variants of concern" (VOC) because they may spread more easily, cause more severe illness, and be resistant to the protection offered by vaccines.
How do I protect myself from COVID-19 and variants of concern?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus and to lower the risk of spreading it to others. The actions you take to protect yourself against COVID-19 are the same to prevent other respiratory illnesses.
With the increase in VOCs, it is important that residents continue with the current public health measures and individual practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. These measures include staying home/self-isolating if you have any symptoms, avoiding all non-essential travel and outings, staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart from others, wearing a mask, washing hands often, and booking a vaccine appointment when eligible.
How are cases of variants of concern of COVID-19 managed in the community?
If there is a COVID-19 VOC case in the community, an investigation will occur immediately to determine who else needs to be isolated (i.e., high-risk close contact). The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will contact residents identified as high-risk close contacts and provide them with additional instructions.
If you believe you have been exposed to a positive case of a variant strain of the virus, please contact the WECHU immediately at 519-258-2146.
For more frequently asked questions, visit our website.
How COVID-19 Spreads
COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person, through close contact with others and through respiratory droplets and aerosols when an infected person coughs,sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. This is similar to how influenza also spreads.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
The virus can also spread when someone touches an object or surface with the virus on it, and then touches their mouth, face, or eyes.
Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include
- Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater)
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include
- Sore throat or difficulty swallowing
- New olfactory or taste disorder(s)
- Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Runny nose, or nasal congestion
Atypical symptoms can include
- Unexplained fatigue/malaise
- Myalgias (muscle aches and pain)
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Decreased or lack of appetite
Signs of COVID-19 can include:
- Clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia
Atypical signs can include:
- Exacerbation of chronic conditions
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty feeding in infants
- Delirium (acutely altered mental status and inattention)
- Unexplained or increased number of falls
- Acute functional decline
- Multisystem inflammatory vasculitis in children
- Presentation may include persistent fever, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea vomiting and diarrhea) and rash
Note: these signs and symptoms are unusual or unexplained and not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, abdominal pain caused by menstrual cramps is not a symptom of COVID-19). More information on these, visit the Ministry of Health (COVID Reference Document for symptoms).
COVID-19 infections are diagnosed by a health care provider, based on the signs and symptoms and are confirmed through laboratory tests.