OTTAWA -- Thirteen cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ottawa. answers your frequently asked questions about COVID-19: What is it? What are the signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus? What should you do to protect yourself?

(Source: Ottawa Public Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Public Health Ontario)

What is coronavirus?

The Ottawa Public Health website states coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that circulate both in humans and other animals like bats. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold, and spread easily between people.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. The novel coronavirus is referred to as COVID-19.

What is my overall risk of getting COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the public health risk associated with COVID-19 is “low” for Canada.

The agency adds the risk to Canadian travellers abroad is generally low, but will vary depending on the destination.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu.

Possible symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing (shortness of breath)
  • Pneumonia in both lungs

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

Ottawa Public Health says the symptoms of novel coronavirus can range from a very mild, cold-like illness to a severe lung infection.

How does novel coronavirus spread?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says human coronavirus cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs.

COVID-19 most commonly spreads from an infected person through:

  • Respiratory droplets that are spread when you cough or sneeze
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

How does COVID-19 infect a person?

Can mosquitoes spread COVID-19?

The World Health Organization says, to date, there is no evidence to suggest mosquitoes can spread COVID-19.

"The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose," The WHO says.

What should you do if you become ill with COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says if you feel sick during travel to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant, cruise staff or a Canadian border services officer.

If you are ill and must visit a health care professional, call ahead or tell them when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness.

If you have travelled abroad and you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing in the next 14 days

  • Isolate yourself within the home as quickly as possible
  • Call your health care provider or public health authority

How is novel coronavirus diagnosed?

Ottawa Public Health says novel coronavirus is diagnosed by a health care provider based on travel history, symptoms and laboratory tests.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Health officials say there is currently no specific antiviral treatment for COVID- 19.

Ottawa Public Health encourages you to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • Try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

Ottawa Public Health says there is no vaccine that protects against coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus will recover on their own.

Will the flu shot protect me from COVID-19?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says if you have received a flu vaccine, “it will not protect against coronaviruses.”

How to protect yourself from COVID-19?

Ottawa Public Health says the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to this virus. Everyday preventive actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

How do I protect myself from COVID-19?

How do I self-isolate?

Public Health Ontario offers the following advice to self-isolate:

  • Stay Home
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home
  • Avoid contact with others
  • Keep distance from others
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth

How do I self-isolate?

Should the general population wear masks to protect themselves from COVID-19?

 The Public Health Agency of Canada says “if you are a healthy individual, the wearing of a mask is not necessary.”

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of an illness that spreads through the air, wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the infection to others.

When wearing a mask, make sure to:

  • Properly cover your mouth and nose
  • Avoid touching the mask once it’s on your face
  • Properly discard the mask after each use
  • Wash your hands after removing the mask

What is social distancing?

According to Harvard Medical School, social distancing refers to action taken to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease.

“For an individual, it refers to maintaining enough distance between yourself and another person to reduce the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

“In a community, social distancing measures may include limiting or cancelling large gatherings of people.”

What is the difference between self-isolate and self-monitor

The Public Health Agency of Canada says you should self-isolate if:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Local public health has identified you as a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19

If you have not been diagnosed with COVID 19 or identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you may be asked to self-monitor.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it means: “monitor yourself for symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing.

If symptoms develop:

  • Stay home
  • Limit contact with others
  • Contact local public health, and follow their instructions

What are the chances of dying from COVID-19?

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches tells CTV News Ottawa it’s “not very likely unless you’re an older adult, especially over aged 70, and someone who has chronic conditions.”

Are pregnant women vulnerable to COVID-19?

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches tells CTV News Ottawa the question isn’t fully answered by the literature yet.

“We do see with influenza pregnant women are more vulnerable … is it possible, but we don’t have the data yet.”

Why are we banning large crowds?

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches tells CTV News at Six that “we know that when you have a case of coronavirus that it can be spread within a close distance from one another. When you have a lot of people in a small space, there’s just more likely you’re going to run into somebody who potentially has the virus.”

“It’s a precautionary measure that’s being taken at this point because we don’t have any evidence in Ottawa that there is a virus transmitting in our community. It’s something that can be done that lessens that risk.”