Coronavirus Information Notice

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS REGARDING NOVEL (NEW) CORONAVIRUS, WUHAN, CHINA

February 14, 2020

Current Status: there are currently no confirmed cases of novel Coronavirus (COVID19) in Alberta or at the U of A.

The risk for exposure at the U of A is low.

The University of Alberta is working closely with Alberta Health Services to monitor and respond to the situation as necessary. The health and safety of our community is always our top priority.

Frequently Asked Questions for the U of A community:

Alberta Health Services provides comprehensive FAQs about novel Coronavirus here: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/ppih/if-ppih-ncov-2019-public-faq.pdf

What is coronavirus?

On December 31, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in Hubei province, China, issued a public statement that they had identified an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause. 

This novel Coronavirus remains rare and respiratory illness in a traveller returning from China is likely caused by a more common illness, like influenza.

Severe illness from 2019‐nCoV is possible, however, many patients have had milder illness.

For additional information on the coronavirus, as provided by the Government of Canada, you can reference the following websites:

What's the risk?

Alberta Health Services indicates that the overall risk in Alberta remains low. 

There are no confirmed cases of novel Coronavirus in Alberta or at the U of A, so the risk to the University of Alberta community is also low. 

The public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

For additional information on the novel coronavirus, as provided by the Government of Canada, you can reference the following websites:

Alberta Health Services asks that you do not make assumptions about the risk of others having novel coronavirus based on their ethnicity or country of origin. Alberta has no confirmed or probable cases of 2019-nCoV and the current risk of exposure in Alberta remains low. If you have further questions, call Health Link (phone # 811).

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Individuals who feel unwell should contact Health Link (phone #811). Please be prepared to describe your symptoms when calling, and follow the advice offered.

Will a face mask prevent catching the new coronavirus?

Alberta Health Services asks people who have a cough or respiratory symptoms to wear a mask and clean their hands when visiting an emergency department or clinic. 

If you are healthy, medical masks are not recommended as they don't provide full protection and can create a false sense of security.

Are there travel restrictions I should be aware of?

The Government of Canada recommends that travellers from Canada avoid non-essential travel to China at this time. The Government of Canada recommends that travellers avoid all travel to Hubei Province https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/china

Based on the Government of Canada's advisories that travellers from Canada avoid non-essential travel to China at this time and that travellers avoid all travel to Hubei Province, U of A faculties and units should alter, cancel, or postpone non-essential travel plans to China as needed. 

The public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.

For additional information on the coronavirus, as provided by the Government of Canada, you can reference the following websites:

Global Affairs Canada https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories/pneumonia-china

Public Health Agency of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

What if I've been to China recently?

Have you been in Hubei province, China in the last 14 days?

If yes, Alberta Health Services recommends the following:

  • It is best for anyone who traveled from Hubei to self-isolate (stay at home, not going to school, work, or social gatherings), even if you are feeling well, until 14 days have passed from your last visit to Hubei province. You can see Alberta Health Services’ tips for self-isolation here: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/health-self-isolation-information-sheet.pdf 
  • This advice is focused on travelers returning from Hubei province as the risk of community transmission is currently the highest in this part of China.
  • You should also closely watch for symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and call Health Link (phone # 811) if any of these symptoms begin.
  • Please be sure to notify your supervisor and/or instructor through normal channels if you will be taking this precaution.
  • For students living in residence, be sure to contact housing@ualberta.ca to arrange any necessary adjustments. 

Have you from any other parts of mainland China (outside Hubei province) in the last 14 days?

If yes, Alberta Health Services recommend the following:

  • Anyone who traveled to mainland China in the last 14 days should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough up to 14 days after their last visit in China.
  • If, while you were in mainland China, you were in contact with someone who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or were in a healthcare facility, please call Health Link (phone # 811) to talk about your possible exposure and to get information on any other measures you may wish to take.
  • Although the most likely cause of symptoms like fever or cough is a common virus, like influenza, if someone who traveled to mainland China in the last 14 days feels sick, they should stay home and away from others, and call Health Link (phone # 811) to talk about any need for testing and follow up.
  • Individuals who are healthy and have not received alternative instructions from Alberta Health Services can continue to attend work/school as normal.

Do I need a doctor's note?

Only individuals exhibiting symptoms should seek medical attention. They should do so by first contacting Health Link (phone #811). 

Employees who are sick for more than three consecutive days may be required to provide a medical note. This would apply to any cause for sick short term sick leave.

Students are not required to provide medical notes for missed classes or exams, but may be required to provide other documentation to support an excused absence request. https://www.ualberta.ca/registrar/examinations/exam-guidelines-for-students/what-to-do-when-you-are-sick

Individuals who are healthy and have not received alternative instructions from Alberta Health Services can continue to attend work/school as normal. 

We are still in influenza season in Alberta, so to minimize the spread of any respiratory virus, for all settings, Alberta Health Services recommends the following:

  • Make sure everyone in your household washes their hands with soap and water often. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag.
  • Wash your hands immediately after that. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are used often and shared by everyone in your home.