COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease)

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a highly contagious virus that was discovered in December 2019. By March 2020, the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic. Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses with many different types. The name coronavirus comes from the word ‘corona’ meaning crown. These viruses are covered with crown-like pointed structures that can be seen under a microscope. Some coronaviruses cause mild disease in humans, like the common cold; others can cause potentially severe diseases, including the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most people with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop severe symptoms. However, anyone can get seriously ill or die, regardless of age. Some people who have had COVID-19 infection, both mild and severe cases, experience long-term health effects. Additionally, some individuals infected with COVID-19 will never develop symptoms. These people, as well as infected individuals who have yet to develop symptoms, can still spread the virus to others.

How does it spread?

COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person. It is most commonly transmitted through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person coughing, sneezing, talking, or breathing. People who are physically near (within 2 metres) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person, are at greatest risk of infection. Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited inside the nose, mouth, airways and lungs. The virus can also be spread from touching surfaces that have the virus on them then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, but rare.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Some people show no symptoms, but can still infect others. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after first exposure to COVID-19. Older adults and people with severe underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. There have been a wide range of symptoms reported, and the list of symptoms associated with COVID-19 may change. Some of the more commonly reported symptoms include:

  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very unwell

Children tend to have abdominal symptoms and skin changes or rashes.

Emergency warning signs of COVID-19:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

If you or someone is showing any of these emergency warning signs, seek emergency medical care immediately. Call 911 or call ahead to the emergency room and notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who may have COVID-19. This list is not all the possible symptoms. Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

How can I protect myself and people around me?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, self-isolate. Do a COVID-19 self-assessment, phone 811, phone your health care provider or get tested. Follow the advice given. Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own.

To protect yourself and the rest of the community from the COVID-19 virus, wear a non-medical mask, practise the Safe 6 and get immunized against COVID-19. Getting your annual flu shot will help protect your community from the flu and reduce the burden on Canada’s health care system during the pandemic. It will not protect against COVID-19, but will reduce your risk of getting flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could put you at high risk for severe complications.

More About COVID-19

COVID-19 Immunization

Immunization for adults

Yukon is using the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to immunize our adult population against COVID-19. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada for people over 18 years old after meeting all the regular requirements in the Canadian vaccine approval process. The Moderna vaccine can be transported between remote locations relatively easily, which makes it a good fit for Yukon.

Widespread immunization against COVID-19 is the best way to protect Yukoners. Safe and effective vaccines will reduce the spread of the virus and, over time, allow us to live with fewer restrictions. If not enough people get vaccinated, the pandemic will continue, along with the restrictions on our day-to-day lives. The more people who get the vaccine, the greater the protection everyone in the territory will have from COVID-19, allowing us to live with fewer and fewer restrictions.

Adult Yukoners can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Immunization for youth

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was recently authorized by Health Canada for people over 12 years old after clinical trials showed that the vaccine was 100% effective at preventing people between the ages of 12 and 17 from getting sick with COVID-19 and from severe illness. We will be getting a enough of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to immunize 85% of our youth between 12 and 17 years old. Due to the limited supply, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will only be available to Yukon youth for a short time, and clinic dates will be more limited than the adult vaccine clinics.

Youth vaccine clinics for first and second doses will be held in Yukon communities. Medical travel will be supported in the communities where a clinic is not held, or for youth who are unable to make the clinic date in their community.

Youth age 12 to 17 can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

Side Effects of Immunization

Just like any medicine or supplement you take, vaccines can have possible side effects. These side effects are almost always very mild and show that your immune system is working well. Most side effects can be treated at home and only last 2-3 days. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the needle was given
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands) in the underarm

COVID-19 mRNA vaccine