Covid-19 Updates

OCEU has now dedicated a page for Covid-19 updates.COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, and the disease is spreading across Canada. We are working non-stop to protect the health and safety of all workers, including those on the front lines of this emergency. Please check back regularly for new information.

Outbreak Update

Global

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic.

This assessment by the WHO is not unexpected. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change the WHO's assessment of the threat posed by COVID-19 and it does not change what the WHO is doing. It also does not change what countries around the world should do. For that reason, it does not change the approach we are taking in Canada.

 

Risk to Canadians

COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.

This does not mean that all Canadians will get the disease. It means that there is already a significant impact on our health care system. If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

There are also increased health risks for Canadian travellers abroad. Because of these risks, the Government of Canada advises you to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. This includes cruise ships.

It is important for all travellers to:

  • self-isolate for 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada
    • some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups such as health care workers
  • monitor your health for symptoms such as for cough, fever or difficulty breathing
  • wash your hands often for 20 seconds and cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand

We continue to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

How Canada is monitoring COVID-19

The health and safety of all Canadians is our top priority.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with provinces, territories and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to actively monitor the situation. Global efforts are focused on containment of the outbreak and the prevention of further spread.

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer of Canada is in close contact with provincial and territorial Chief Medical Officers of Health to ensure that any cases of COVID-19 occurring in Canada continue to be rapidly identified and managed in order to protect the health of Canadians.

Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory is performing diagnostic testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. The laboratory is working in close collaboration with provincial and territorial public health laboratories, which are now able to test for COVID-19. A summary of people tested in Canada is available and updated each week day.

National Microbiology Laboratory's summary of people tested in Canada as of March 24, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
Total number of patients tested in Canada Total positive Total negative
125,062 2,247 108,743

This testing summary represents information collected by the laboratory and not the total reported cases in Canada. The remainder of tests not reported here are still being resolved.

Should there be any differences with the national case count compared with testing numbers reported by provincial and territorial public health officials, provincial data should be considered the most up-to-date.

Symptoms and Treatment

 

Symptoms of 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.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known incubation period for this disease. We are currently investigating if the virus can be transmitted to others if someone is not showing symptoms. While experts believe that it is possible, it is considered less common.

Symptoms have included:

  • cough
  • fever
  • difficulty breathing
  • pneumonia in both lungs

In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

If you become ill

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, reduce your contact with others:

  • isolate yourself at home for 14 days to avoid spreading it to others
    • if you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance
  • visit a health care professional or call your local public health authority
    • call ahead to tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions

If you become sick while travelling back to Canada:

  • inform the flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer
  • advise a Canada border services agent on arrival in Canada if you believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms
    • this is required under the Quarantine Act
    • the Canada border services agent will provide instructions for you to follow

Diagnosing coronavirus

Coronavirus infections are diagnosed by a health care provider based on symptoms and are confirmed through laboratory tests.

Treating coronavirus

Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, you should self-monitor and consult your health care provider. They may recommend steps you can take to relieve symptoms.

Vaccine

At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 or any natural health products that are authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19.

If you have received a flu vaccine, it will not protect against coronaviruses.

Prevention and Risks

 

How coronavirus spreads

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged 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

Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.

Preventing coronavirus

Canadians should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, including:

  • Being prepared in case you or a family member become ill
  • Following the latest travel advice from federal and provincial public health leaders:
    • avoiding all non-essential travel, including cruise ships
    • self-isolating, and monitoring for symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty breathing) for 14 days if you have travelled outside of Canada
  • reducing contact with others by following the guidance for self-monitoring, self-isolating, or isolating
  • practicing social distancing and proper hygiene
  • wearing masks, if necessary

Self-monitor, self-isolate and isolate

There is a difference between advice to self-monitor, advice to self-isolate and advice to isolate. It is important to note these measures are in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

You need to self-monitor if you:

  • have no symptoms and
  • may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days or
  • are in close contact with older adults or people who are medically vulnerable or
  • have been asked to do so by your Public Health Authority

Self-monitoring means to:

  • monitor yourself for 14 days for symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fever and difficulty breathing
  • avoid crowded places and increase your personal space from others whenever possible

If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself from others immediately and contact your public health authority as soon as possible.

Self-isolate if you:

  • have no symptoms and
  • may have been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of:
    • travelling outside of Canada within the last 14 days or
    • coming in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • have been asked to do so by your Public Health Authority

Self-isolation means to:

  • stay at home
  • monitor yourself for symptoms, even if mild, for 14 days
  • avoid contact with others

If you develop symptoms, even if mild, stay home, avoid other people and contact your Public Health Authority as soon as possible.

You need to be isolated if you:

  • have symptoms, even if mild, associated with COVID-19 or
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or
  • are waiting for laboratory test results or
  • have been advised to do so by your Public Health Authority

Isolating yourself means to:

  • stay home until the local public health authority says you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus
  • avoid contact with others

If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your healthcare provider or Public Health Authority and follow their instructions.

Social distancing

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

  • avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
  • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
  • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others

Hygiene

Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
    • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
    • toys
    • toilets
    • phones
    • electronics
    • door handles
    • bedside tables
    • television remotes

Wearing masks

If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.

However, your health care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading you when you cough or sneeze.

Risks of getting coronavirus

COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. The risk will vary between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.

This does not mean that all Canadians will get the disease. It means that there is already a significant impact on our health care system. If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health care resources available to Canadians.

The risk for COVID-19 may be increased for certain settings such as:

  • cruise ships
  • crowded areas (such as public transit and shopping centres)
  • gatherings (spiritual and cultural settings, theatres, sports arenas, festivals and conferences)

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

People that fall into these categories should reconsider attending gatherings. This includes large gatherings and even smaller events in crowded or enclosed settings.

If you have symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty breathing), do not attend a mass gathering, event or places where people gather. You could put someone whose health is vulnerable at risk.

Travellers

The risk for getting COVID-19 may be increased for travellers. Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel. If you must travel, check the latest travel advice before you leave.

Pregnant women

Throughout pregnancy, women experience changes in their bodies that may increase the risk of some illnesses, including viral respiratory infections, such as the flu. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at a greater risk for more serious outcomes related to COVID-19.

It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses and take the appropriate steps to avoid and prevent infection. Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of getting an infection or spreading infection to others.

If you are pregnant and concerned about COVID-19, speak to your health care provider.

Products shipped from outside of Canada

Coronaviruses generally do not survive on surfaces after being contaminated. The risk of spread from products shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature is very low.

There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages.

Food

There is currently no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus. Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19.

If we become aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply.

Animals in Canada

There is currently no evidence to suggest that this virus is circulating in animals in Canada.

It is possible that some types of animals can be infected with COVID-19 but there is no evidence that pets or other animals can spread the virus. There are still many unknowns about COVID-19 and this is an area that remains to be studied and understood.

Until we know more, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet or other animal:

  • avoid close contact with them
    • do not snuggle or kiss them, or let them lick you, sit on your lap, or sleep in your bed
  • practice good cough etiquette
    • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
  • have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this is not possible, always wash your hands before touching or feeding them
  • limit your animal's contact with other people and animals
    • this may mean keeping them indoors

To date, there have not been any reports of livestock being infected by COVID-19 anywhere. However, livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area.

What We are Doing for Our Members

Keeping our members updated and supporting them in each and every way in their employment by working with the employer on a constant basis. Here are some of our member responses.

I just wanted to reach out and say thank you. I am sure you are tirelessly working during this crisis. As a staff member, i am really proud that we have pulled together as an organization to focus on what matters. Thank you for all the work you do!

Please take care of yourselves and stay safe.

Thank you,

Linda

Toronto Office

Great updates — kudos!

Mike

Toronto Office

I would just like to take a moment to let you all know that I truly appreciate all that you are doing to keep everyone safe and that our jobs are not jeopardized.

I am very grateful to be a part of this union.

Shalene

Toronto Office

Thanks for all your hard work and keeping us informed.

We appreciate all you do for all of us !

Tennile

Toronto Office

Awesome. Thanks for helping

Marlene

Toronto Office

Thanks for all your communications. It’s been very helpful.

Antonella

Hamilton Office

Thank you for all the work you are doing.

Christina

Windsor Office

Thanks for all your help, much appreciated !

Danielle

Windsor Office