As you are probably aware, a new strain of coronavirus has been identified as the cause of a viral outbreak in Wuhan, China and has since been reported in several other countries. As students, we’re now wondering how this will affect us and what we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy. The Government of Canada is providing information and updates about the new virus, known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (or 2019-nCoV), as the situation evolves.
York is also keeping us updated through email and website: Coronavirus Information and Update site. This website is your main source for current York community-specific information, with links to expert health agencies, organizations and resources. The site also contains FAQs that you can refer to. Whenever the site is updated, you will receive an e-mail reminding you to visit the site.
Even though the World Health Organization has declared this a global health emergency, it is important to remember that the Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with this strain of virus as low for Canada and Canadian travelers.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are categorized as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. This particular strain of coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus , or 2019-nCoV, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Symptoms range from common to severe respiratory problems and include fever, cough, shortness of breath and trouble breathing.
Many of these symptoms are similar to a seasonal flu. Should you experience these symptoms and have recently travelled to China, avoid contact with others and follow-up with your health-care professional. Advise your health-care professional about your symptoms and travel history in advance of attending a clinic/hospital.
Learn more about 2019-nCoV at the Ontario Ministry of Health website.
How can I prevent myself from getting sick?
To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including 2019-nCoV, public health officials recommend that you:
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails. Dry your hands completely afterward.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing facilities are unavailable.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Dispose of used facial tissues immediately. If you do not have a facial tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
- Familiarize yourself with, and follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for safer food preparation.
People may be seen wearing a mask, but don’t assume they’re sick. Wearing of masks is a personal choice, and some people choose to wear masks as a form of prevention. Stay home if you feel sick, check in on friends and be mindful not to draw assumptions based on culture or ethnicity.
The most effective ways to prevent illness from spreading continue to be: frequent and thorough handwashing, practicing proper cough and sneezing etiquette, and staying home when you are sick. If you need non-medical support please consider contacting the services listed at the Coronavirus Information & Update page.
It is common to feel scared and confused, and to place blame while trying to make sense of a situation. However, posting and sharing unverified information on any platform is harmful and can contribute to the spread of fear.
The best thing each of us can do right now is to remain calm and continue to approach all members of the York community with the empathy and kindness we all deserve. We have to remind ourselves to be conscious of how our words and actions affect others, particularly now when some may be feeling isolated or frightened.
York University prides itself on diversity and inclusion, so let’s work together to stay safe and healthy.
Please see the following websites for the most recent information available regarding 2019-nCoV and steps you can take to protect yourself from infection:
- York University Coronavirus Information & Update page
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Government of Canada (@GovCanHealth on Twitter)
- Government of Ontario
- Toronto Public Health (website)
- Toronto Public Health (@topublichealth on Twitter)
- Toronto Public Health (Facebook)
Resources on Campus
If you need non-medical support during these particularly challenging times in the world, please consider contacting the following support services:
support and resources offered by Student Counselling & Development
Services and The Accessibility,
Well-Being & Counselling Centre at Glendon Campus.
- Keele Campus: visit N110 Bennett Centre or call 416-736-5297. Walk-in counselling is available from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Glendon Campus: visit Glendon Hall E103 or call 416-487-6709.
- Evenings & Weekends: call the Good2Talk helpline at 1-866-935-5454.
- York International, who can offer specific information to international students, at 416-736-5177 or email email@example.com or drop by 200 York Lanes.
If you are concerned about attending classes or missing a test or exam due to illness, please contact your program office, course instructor or department.
Be aware of the developing situation, but don’t let panic control your reaction. Reach out if you feel scared or alone and utilize all the resources available.