About COVID-19

On December 31, 2019 an outbreak of a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan, China. As the situation continues to evolve, Health Authorities at international, national and local levels continue to monitor, gather information, assess risk and respond.

First identified in the 1960s, coronaviruses (CoV) typically cause illness in animals. Sometimes, a typical animal coronavirus can infect humans. Only a handful of coronaviruses have been found to spread person-to-person, and most are associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold. However, some newer coronaviruses have caused more severe illnesses, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

In early January 2020, a novel (new) coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization officially named this novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19 (first referred to as 2019-nCoV). COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that had not been previously identified in humans prior to January 2020.

Human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 has been confirmed. However, further evidence is required to determine how efficiently or sustainably this virus spreads between people. Public health officials in Canada and Manitoba are focused at this time on containing the disease (i.e., reducing the potential spread of COVID-19 to people in the community). As the situation continues to evolve, international health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as well as Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living, continue to monitor, gather information, assess risk, and respond to the evolving situation.

The virus can be spread through close contact (within two metres or six feet) with an infected person who is coughing or sneezing. You can also get COVID-19 by touching objects contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Manitoba public health officials have provided guidance to health care providers about what should be done if they suspect someone has COVID-19. In addition, they are working with WHO and PHAC and other provinces and territories to respond to the rapidly evolving situation.

Symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever/ chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat/ hoarse voice
  • Shortness of breath/ breathing difficulties
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Vomiting, or diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Poor feeding if an infant
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Skin rash of unknown cause

While many people will develop only mild symptoms, some groups appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Those at higher risk typically develop more serious, even fatal, symptoms such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

High risk groups include those:

  • 60 years of age and older
  • living with chronic health conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart, renal or chronic lung conditions)
  • with weakened immune systems (e.g. cancer)

Symptoms of COVID-19 or other coronaviruses may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Health care providers can diagnose coronavirus infections based on symptoms and laboratory tests. A detailed travel history may be required, particularly in the case of COVID-19. There are no specific treatments for illnesses resulting from coronaviruses, including COVID-19. Most people with these illnesses will recover on their own. However, some individuals may require medical treatment.

NEW Last updated: March 19, 2020

Current evidence about other similar diseases suggests an individual with COVID-19 cannot get it again. However, this is a new virus. Public health officials continue to monitor and gather information about COVID-19. This includes data that show if people who are infected with COVID-19 can become immune to the virus for life.