What it is
The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) AKA COVID-19 was first found after cases of pneumonia were reported in Wuhan, China. Human coronaviruses are common, and typically associated with mild illnesses like the common cold. This one hadn't been found in humans before December.
Symptoms are: Fever, cough and difficulty breathing. They can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. You can have coronavirus and not feel symptoms, putting you at risk of spreading it unknowingly.
A global pandemic
The state of COVID-19 worldwide is constantly evolving, but as of print time there are: No reported cases in Nova Scotia, 79 cases in Canada, and one death related to the virus in BC.
Use soap and water and take your time. Do it before you eat. After you pee. More than you normally do—the amount you normally should. Hand sanitizer works—but it doesn't work if it's all stocked up at your house and there's none left at the grocery store for your fellow Haligonians.
Make your own handwashing sing-along-guide at washyourlyrics.com
If you've been outside of the country and develop a fever with a temperature of 38 C or higher, and/or a cough, call 811. The NSHA has opened assessment centres including one at Cobequid Community Health Centre in Lower Sackville. Don't go to an assessment centre until you've called 811. And, don't go to the emergency department. Call 811.
Practice healthy etiquette
You've been meaning to stop touching your face for years, so now's the time to make it happen. That means no nose picking, chin holding, eyelash fishing or nail biting. Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
Human, meet home
Congratulations. You saved your free trial of Disney+ for a moment like this. If you're sick, stay home. Write a letter to your MLA and MP about the lack of sick time for precarious workers—mention minimum wage while you're at it, but do it from the comfort of your bed. The federal government has waived the one-week waiting period for EI to help businesses and workers who are sick.
Respect your elders
To help protect older Nova Scotians and those most at risk for severe illness, the province is restricting visitors who have travelled outside the country in the last 14 days from entering long-term care homes. As always, anyone who feels unwell should not enter a facility.
Dal's on it
Dalhousie researchers are now working on vaccines and antiviral drugs hoping to curtail the outbreak. Dal's experts came up with the world's first effective Ebola vaccine to make it to human clinical trials, and several on the team worked on developing vaccines for the 2003 SARS coronavirus.
When public health works...
Nothing happens. University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist Malia Jones reminds us that "If this all fizzles out and you start feeling like 'Wah, all that fuss for nothing?' Then send a thank-you note to your local department of public health for a job well done."
Cross your fingers
The internet is skilled at sharing disinformation about coronavirus—so beware. But people are also coming up with ideas to get information into the hands of those who need it, like the list at isitcanceledyet.com.
So far in Halifax only the IIHF Women's World Hockey Championships has been cancelled—ticket holders were encouraged to hold on to their tickets, Hockey Canada says they'll be honoured at the rescheduled event in 2021—refunds given out on a case by case basis. The Coast is monitoring national and provincial regulations diligently as Burger Week approaches.