Public Health Agency of Canada CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 1-833-784-4397

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N95 Respirator vs Surgical Mask Clinical Data: Informing respiratory protection policy.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Public Health Agency of Canada
CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 1-833-784-4397

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS. Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases.

Pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On December 31, 2019 the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The outbreak began in a seafood and poultry market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. Like SARS and MERS-CoV, the newly detected coronavirus has a zoonotic source, however, human to human transmission has been confirmed. On March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID-19 viral disease a pandemic.

Epidemiology of COVID-19

As of August 5, 2020 total of 18,624,056 confirmed cases caused by the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and 702,479 deaths were reported. At this time 188 countries are reporting cases of the novel Coronavirus. For a full listing of affected countries refer to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Cases (Johns Hopkins University)

Source: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Cases (Johns Hopkins University).

Other Global COVID-19 Case Trackers


Canadian Cases COVID-19

As of August 4, 2020, a total of 117,792 confirmed cases caused by the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and 8,958 deaths were reported in Canada. An Epidemiological Summary of COVID-19 Cases in Canada is available.

For real time information refer to the:

PHAC Coronavirus Map of Canada

Provided by: Public Health Agency of Canada


Areas in Canada with cases of COVID-19 as of August 4, 2020
Location Total cases Active cases Recovered Deaths Tested
Count Rate* Count Rate* Count Count Rate* Count Rate
Canada 117,792 313 6,384 17 102,450 8,958 24 4,236,521 112,706
Newfoundland and Labrador 266 51 3 1 260 3 1 25,654 49,189
Prince Edward Island 36 23 0 0 36 0 0 20,183 128,598
Nova Scotia 1,071 110 2 0 1,005 64 7 65,628 67,561
New Brunswick 170 22 0 0 168 2 0 46,925 60,406
Quebec 59,845 705 3,274 39 50,886*** 5,685 67 858,016 101,122
Ontario 39,628 272 1,245 9 35,601 2,782 19 2,203,410 151,265
Manitoba 443 32 94 7 341 8 1 91,697 66,958
Saskatchewan 1,368 116 253 22 1,097 18 2 90,170 76,776
Alberta 11,146 255 1,191 27 9,754 201 5 596,714 136,507
British Columbia 3,787 75 319 6 3,273 195 4 232,016 45,750
Yukon 14 34 3 7 11 0 0 1,740 42,591
Northwest Territories 5 11 0 0 5 0 0 2,878 64,204
Nunavut 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,414 36,462
Repatriated travellers 13 0 0 0 13 0 0 76 0

Source: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Government of Canada


About COVID-19

The first human infections in China must have occurred in November 2019 or earlier. The first 59 suspected cases at the end of December 2019 and early January 2020 were admitted to Jinyintan Hospital, which was specially designated to isolate them.

On January 23, 2020, Chinese authorities closed off the city, canceling planes and trains leaving Wuhan and suspending buses, subways and ferry services.  A second city in China, Huanggang was also placed in lockdown. On January 24, 2020 travel was restricted to a total of 10 cities, affecting 50 million people. Public bus, railway and airline operations were also suspended in these cities. On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the novel coronavirus is considered a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee announcement this decision due to concern for further global spread after person-to-person spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed in 4 countries (Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States) outside of China. As for February 5, 2020, forty major airlines around the world have canceled or reduced their flights to China until as late as March amid the coronavirus outbreak. On February 19 and 21, 2020; cases were reported in Iran and Italy respectively with no known direct link to Mainland China. On March 9, 2020 Italy expanded the quarantine from the Lombardy region to the entire country, as Italy’s case count surged. People throughout the country of 60 million were ordered not to travel other than for work or emergencies. South Korea and Iran have also imposed travel restrictions. On March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID-19 viral disease a pandemic. As of May 13, 2020 the virus had spread to 188 countries with travel bans and restrictions implemented in many countries combined with various social distancing measures (ie. school, public space closures) in an effort to slow COVID-19 spread and flatten the epidemiological curve.

Preliminary calculations for the average number of infections that each infected person may go on to cause, known as R0. This is estimated to be 2.0 to 3.0 people per infected person. In comparison to seasonal flu, which usually has an R0 of around 1.3.  

The World Health Organization announced that the fatality rate in Wuhan, China, considered the epicenter of the outbreak, is between 2% and 4%. Outside of Wuhan, it is thought to be closer to 0.7%. In a recent JAMA paper The overall case-fatality rate was 2.3%. No deaths occurred in those aged 9 years and younger, in those aged 70 to 79 years had an 8% fatality rate and those aged 80 years and older had a fatality rate of 14.8%. Children made up a 2.4% of the cases and almost none was severely ill. The fatality rate was 49% among critical cases, and elevated among those with preexisting conditions: 10.5% for people with cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for diabetes, 6.3% for chronic respiratory disease, 6% for hypertension, and 5.6% for cancer.

A conjoint review done by WHO and Chinese scientists has found that 80% of infected people had mild to moderate disease, 13.8% had severe symptoms, and 6.1% had life-threatening episodes of respiratory failure, septic shock, or organ failure. No deaths were reported among mild and severe cases. For the mild and moderate cases, it took 2 weeks on average to recover.

Currently, randomized controlled clinical trials are being conducted to investigate the safety and efficacy of its investigational antiviral compound remdesivir (GS-5734) against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).


Surveillance for COVID-19 Infection

Provincial/Territorial public health authorities should report confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 nationally to the Public Health Agency of Canada within 24 hours of their own notification.

PHAC Interim national case definition: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Suspect case

A person with symptoms that include two or more of:

  • Fever (signs of fever)
  • Cough (new or exacerbated chronic)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache

        And

Probable Case

A person (who has had a laboratory test):

  • with fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) or new onset of (or exacerbation of chronic) cough

    And

  • who meets the COVID-19 exposure criteria and in whom a laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive.

         Or

A person (who has not had a laboratory test):

  • With fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) or new onset of (or exacerbation of chronic) cough,

    And

  • Close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

       Or

  • Lived in or worked in a closed facility known to be experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 (e.g., long-term care facility, prison)

Exposure criteria

In the 14 days before onset of illness, a person who:

        Or

  • Had close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who traveled to an affected area (including inside Canada) within 14 days prior to their onset of illness

         Or

  • Participated in a mass gathering identified as a source of exposure (e.g., conference)

        Or

  • Had laboratory exposure to biological material (e.g. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Illnesses associated with the new coronavirus, named COVID-19, are similar to several respiratory illnesses and include fever, dry cough, sore throat and headache. Less frequent symptoms included coughing sputum or blood, headache and diarrhea. Most cases are considered mild to moderate with a subset experiencing more severe illness with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

Reported signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Pneumonia in both lungs
  • Fatigue
  • Sputum production
  • Sudden loss of taste or smell
  • Anorexia
  • Myalgia
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Infection Prevention and Control

Prior to any patient interaction, all healthcare workers (HCWs) have a responsibility to assess the infectious risk posed to themselves and to other patients, visitors, and HCWs. This risk assessment is based on professional judgment about the clinical situation and up-to-date information on how the specific healthcare organization has designed and implemented engineering and administrative controls, along with the availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Recommendations for infection prevention and control measures for patients presenting with suspected or confirmed infection or co-infection with COVID-19 in acute care settings include:

1. Routine Practices: For all patients, at all times, in all healthcare settings including when performing a point-of-care risk assessment, and adherence to respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene.

2. Contact and Droplet Precautions (should be implemented empirically):

  • Wear gloves and a long-sleeved gown upon entering the patient's room, cubicle or designated bedspace.
  • Wear facial protection (surgical or procedure mask and eye protection, or face shield, or mask with visor attachment) when within two metres of a patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection.

3. Airborne Precautions: When performing aerosol-generating medical procedures (AGMPs). A respirator and face/eye protection should be used by all HCWs present in a room where an AGMP is being performed on a patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection. Whenever possible, AGMPs should be performed in an airborne infection isolation room.

As information becomes available, these recommendations will be re-evaluated and updated as needed. Refer to WHO Rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19)