The Basics on COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

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

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms are:

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

Symptoms may be absent, mild (similar to a cold) or more severe (such as those associated with pneumonia and pulmonary insufficiency).

Since the symptoms are very similar to those seen in other common respiratory infections, such as influenza (flu), bronchitis and pneumonia, it is recommended that anyone with symptoms of a respiratory infection undertake the steps to obtain a medical diagnosis. In the event of COVID-19, it will be recommended that they voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation protects the people around you by preventing the infection from spreading.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have a fever, cough or breathing difficulties or any other symptom that might be indicative of COVID-19, self-isolation at home is recommended until you receive clear instructions. Contact the COVID-19 information hotline in your province to be assessed by a nurse who can refer you to a designated COVID-19 clinic if needed.

Go to the emergency room only if you have breathing difficulties and if your condition allows it, first contact the COVID-19 information hotline 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.). Additionally, the hospital will be notified of your arrival.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Usually, COVID-19 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 contaminated surfaces or objects and then with the mouth, nose or eyes

How can I avoid spreading the virus?

Physical distancing

  • Maintain a minimum two-metre distance with other people.
  • Favour virtual meetings over face-to-face encounters.
  • Avoid direct contact for greetings, such as handshakes or hugs.
  • Avoid unnecessary walks in crowds or public gathering places, especially where there are a lot of people.
  • Avoid gatherings of any kind outside of work in areas where you are likely to come into contact with contagious people.
  • Avoid the use of public transit by resorting to other means of transportation or by 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 when you have been in contact with other people or been in a public place;
  • 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

  • When in a public place or with other people, cough or sneeze into your mask or face covering. If you are not wearing one, use the crook of your arm or a tissue to avoid spreading the virus.
  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it immediately and then wash your hands;

Wearing a mask or face covering

  • It is advised to wear one when contact with other people cannot be avoided.
  • It is important to note that wearing a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • For more information on how to wear a mask, read the following text: "What you should know about face coverings".

How is Jean Coutu adapting to the current context?

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 our various teams regarding 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 using the mobile app. Additionally, if you need to avoid leaving your home, a delivery service is offered by most Jean Coutu affiliated pharmacies.

For additional information:

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

This advice is 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.
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