The Basics on COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a virus that affects the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs).

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are:

  • coughing
  • fever (38°C or higher)
  • loss of smell (anosmia) sometimes accompanied by loss of taste (ageusia)
  • breathing difficulties

Symptoms may be mild (similar to a cold) or more severe (such as those associated with pneumonia and lung or kidney failure).

Special attention must be paid to the elderly, especially those 70 years of age and older, as they are at greater risk of complications.

Since the symptoms are very similar to those seen in other common respiratory infections, such as influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia, it is recommended that anyone with symptoms of a respiratory infection voluntarily isolate themselves for 14 days. This self-isolation will prevent the spreading of the infection to the people around you and therefore protect them.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have a fever, cough or breathing difficulties, isolation at home is recommended. Contact the COVID-19 information line in your province to be assessed by a nurse who can refer you to a designated COVID-19 clinic if necessary.

Go to the emergency room only if you have breathing difficulties and if your condition allows it, first contact the COVID-19 information line in your province. They will tell you how to get there and what precautions to take (wearing a mask, using personal transportation or an ambulance, etc.). In addition, the hospital will be notified of your arrival.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Usually COVID19‑ infects the nose, throat and lungs. It is most commonly spread by:

  • close contact with an infected person when that person coughs or sneezes;
  • hand contact with infected surfaces and then with the mouth, nose or eyes.

How can I avoid spreading the virus?

Social distancing

  • Maintain a distance of more than two metres with any person (family member, life partner, co-worker, friends, etc.).
  • Limit face-to-face communication.
  • Avoid direct contact for greetings, such as handshakes or hugs.
  • Avoid unnecessary traffic in crowds or large public gathering places with large numbers of people.
  • Avoid gatherings of any kind outside of work in areas where you are likely to come into contact with contagious people.
  • At a minimum, use public transit by resorting to other means of transportation or walking. When public transportation is the only option, travel outside peak hours, if possible.

Hand hygiene

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet, handling food or coming into contact with someone who is symptomatic;
  • Use an alcohol-based disinfectant if soap and water are not available;
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes without first washing your hands.
  • Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and objects with household disinfectants.

Respiratory etiquette

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or with a tissue when you cough or sneeze to avoid spreading germs;
  • If you use a handkerchief, dispose of it immediately and wash your hands afterwards;

Should I wear a mask?

Different recommendations have been published concerning the use of masks in community since the beginning of the crisis. It is important to note that wearing a mask in no way replaces social distancing, regular hand washing and respiratory etiquette.

Wearing a mask can, however, be an additional measure to avoid transmitting the virus, even if you show no symptoms. The mask can be useful for short periods of time in public places, when physical distance is not easily achieved, for example in public transport.

Homemade masks (non-medical face mask) can therefore be used for this purpose. Surgical masks as well as N-95 masks should be reserved for people providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.

If you choose to use a non-medical face mask, it is important to remember that they must be used with care, it will be necessary to:

  • Wash hands immediately before putting on and immediately after taking it off
  • Make sure it fits well (non-gaping)
  • Avoid sharing it with others
  • Avoid touching your face mask when wearing it
  • Change your homemade mask as soon as it is wet or soiled
  • Put the mask directly in the washing machine (the mask can be washed with other items)
  • Do not leave used masks in supermarket carts, on the floo

How is Jean Coutu getting ready?

The safety of our customers and all employees remains our priority. In addition to setting up a special committee to closely monitor the situation, we have already implemented strict in-branch hygiene measures. We have reinforced the message to the various teams regarding the hygiene rules recommended by public health, with whom we remain in contact.

We are aware of the increased demand for certain products related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking the necessary measures to avoid product shortages as much as possible.

How can I get my medication without going to the pharmacy?

We remind you that your pharmacist owners affiliated to Jean Coutu offer you various remote services. You can ask for the renewal of your medications remotely, either by phone, on the web at or on the mobile app. In addition, if you need to avoid leaving your home, a delivery service is offered by the majority of Jean Coutu affiliated pharmacies.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada website
Quebec Government FAQs
Government of New Brunswick website
Government of Ontario website

This advice was written based on information available at the time this document was written.


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The Basics on COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a virus that affects the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). Special attention must be paid to the elderly, especially those 70 years of age and older, as they are at greater risk of complications.