COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is the disease caused by SARS-coV-2, a virus in the coronavirus family. The coronavirus family is known to cause symptoms that can range from a simple cold to severe respiratory complications. The COVID-19 outbreak reportedly started in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.


COVID-19 symptoms can vary from person to person. The most common are:

  • Fever;
    • in children: 38° C (100.4 °F) or higher (rectal temperature)
    • in adults: 38° C (100.4 °F) or higher (oral temperature)
    • in the elderly: 37.8° C (100 °F) or higher (oral temperature)
    • or 1.1° C higher than a person’s normal temperature
  • Onset or worsening of a cough cough;
  • Difficulty breathing;


  • Sudden loss of smell without nasal congestion, with or without loss of taste.

The symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear. They can be mild and similar to the common cold. They can also be more serious, with symptoms associated with pneumonia and pulmonary insufficiency. It is also possible to be a COVID-19 carrier without showing any symptoms. For these reasons, it is essential that everyone take preventive measures.

How it spreads

COVID-19 is spread by small, contaminated droplets that are released from the mouth or nose of infected individuals when they speak, cough or sneeze. These droplets spread through the air and can be inhaled by people who are too close.

In addition, the virus can survive on surfaces from a few hours to a few days, depending on the type of surface and the conditions.

Therefore, you can contract COVID-19 by:

  • Being in close contact with an infected person;
  • Touching a contaminated surface with your hands and then touching your face.

What’s happening in Québec and Canada?

The situation is changing from day to day. Follow it here:

Who is at risk and what about people with diabetes?

Those considered to be at risk are people with compromised immune systems, those 70 years of age and over and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, chronic lung disease or diabetes.

For more information on the specific risks for people living with diabetes, see our article: COVID-19: the risks for people with diabetes.


To date, there is no cure for COVID-19. The majority (about 80%) of people with mild symptoms will recover on their own without any special treatment.

What are the prevention measures?

Since there is no vaccine available at this time, preventive measures must be followed rigorously to minimize the risk of infection and spread. These recommendations are doubly important for people living with diabetes and their loved ones:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue (be sure to cover your nose and mouth) or, if necessary, into the crook of your elbow. Throw away the tissue right away and then wash your hands. 
  • Avoid touching your face (particularly your eyes, nose and mouth) before washing and drying your hands.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often (e.g.: door handles, counters, mobile devices).
  • Do not share food, eyeglasses, towels, tools, etc.
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from other people, and avoid all contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing or running a fever.
  • Wear a mask or face cover in public places, especially when physical distance of 2 meters is not possible. For information on wearing a mask or face cover, click here.
  • Continue with your scheduled medical checkups but find out if they can be done remotely, or postpone them if there is no urgency. Going to a medical clinic increases the risk of infection.

In preparation for potential infection, we recommend the following:

  • Have on hand the phone numbers of your doctor, pharmacist and insurance company.
  • Have on hand a list of all your medications, as well as the vitamins, minerals and supplements that you take.
  • Make sure you have on hand 1 to 2 weeks’ worth of all your medications in the event that it becomes impossible for you to leave your home.
  •  If possible, stock up on hand soap and sanitizing gel for hand cleaning.

What if you become infected?

If you suspect that you are infected, stay at home and call the special Government of Québec hotline at 1 877 644‑4545 for further instructions.

Also, call your doctor or pharmacist to find out if an adjustment to your medication is necessary or if you need to stop taking some medications temporarily.


COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a coronavirus. As of now, the situation is still not entirely clear and we suggest that you keep informed of the latest developments. Check out the resources below, as well as other reliable sources of information, for regular updates and recommendations:

Official website of the Government of Québec

Self-Care guide from Government of Québec

Official website of the Government of Canada

CNESST – Questions and answers for employees and employers

Diabetes Canada website

International Diabetes Federation

World Health Organization – Myth Busters