As of March 6, 2020, if your child has a cough in Canada, it is extremely unlikely that it is COVID-19. However, the situation could change, so keep informed through the media.


 There are things we can do right now to be prepared

  • Talk to your children about proper hand washing (how to best wash their hands, when to wash their hands) and the use of hand sanitizer;
  • Talk about how to properly sneeze or cough when you have a cold - don’t sneeze into your hands (cough or sneeze into a tissue, or the crook of your elbow);
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap;
  • Stay home if you are sick;
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear sick or who aren’t feeling well.

You (and your family) should be taking measures to avoid getting sick

  • Disinfect common surfaces that people tend to touch more often (door handles, knobs, faucet handles, phones, tablets);
  • Throw out tissues once you have used them;
  • Avoid contact with people who have recently returned from areas where the virus is spreading;
  • Avoid large public gatherings in indoor spaces;
  • Avoid travel to places where the virus is spreading;
  • Avoid close contact with people who appear sick or who aren’t feeling well;
  • Get your flu shot if you haven’t already as the flu virus is still circulating in the community.

How to talk to your child about the coronavirus

  • As a parent, be as informed as possible before explaining issues to your children;
  • Talk with your child to assess their level of worry;
  • You do not have to tell your child everything; use ”simple language" for all age groups and allowing children to ask lots of questions to show they're being listened to;
  • As with other highly publicized media topics, children are exposed to myths and misinformation via playground gossip and, particularly among pre-teens and teenagers, on social media. The best way to combat misinformation is to provide age-appropriate details and reassurance;
  • Have a conversation in a way that makes your child feel safe and in control, instructing them about how they can help protect themselves and their friends; not knowing is worse than being misinformed and anxious.

 How to know if your child (or a family member) has coronavirus:

  • If your child/family member does contract COVID-19, it will not look much different from a common flu. For most people, the virus starts as a dry cough, some trouble breathing, and fever.

 What to do if you think your child (or a family member) has coronavirus:

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause very mild to severe illness consisting of fever, and/or cough, other upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath).

  • If your symptoms are MILD
    • Call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or your health care provider
    • Call your health care provider or a walk-in clinic prior to visiting them in person
  • If your symptoms are SEVERE
    • Contact your Health Care Provider first (if available)
    • If you cannot reach your Health Care Provider, go to the Hospital Emergency Department and pay attention to special signage


 Please note:

The virus can cause pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system.  People who are generally healthy are likely to get a mild case that can be waited out at home. The ones most at risk with COVID-19 are the older adults in your life or those with compromised immune systems.



Ottawa Public Health Website – How can you protect yourself and your family?

Child Mind Institute – Talking to kids about the coronavirus; - Coronavirus: Keep it simple, stick to facts - how parents should tell kids