Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause illness ranging from mild symptoms, like the common cold, to more severe illness such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets that are spread when you cough or sneeze
- close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu.
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.
Symptoms have included:
- A new cough, or worsening chronic cough
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- A new onset of fatigue
- Loss of sense of taste
- Loss of sense of smell
- In children, purple markings on the fingers and toes
- Difficulty breathing
In severe cases, infection can lead to death.
If you think you have symptoms:
- Take a self-assessment to find out if you should be tested for COVID-19.
- If you need to be tested, request to get tested for COVID-19 in your community by submitting an online referral (must complete self-assessment first.)
If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 and do not need to talk to a nurse, complete the self-assessment and get tested.
If you are having difficulty breathing or experience severe symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Genetic variations of viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are common and expected.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will naturally develop mutations, which are changes to the genetic material in the virus over time.
When there have been several significant mutations to the virus then it’s called a variant. A variant is of concern when it affects:
- disease spread
- disease severity
- tests used to detect the virus
- vaccines and treatments
Monitoring the variants
The Public Health Agency of Canada works with the provinces and territories, and other partners to monitor and identify variants of concern in Canada. We’re following the first identified variants in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. Monitoring for genetic changes in the virus allows us to understand better the potential impact of the mutations.
The National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) have established some high priority criteria for sequencing. Any specimens collected from persons who have travel-associated infection to impacted areas, cases suggestive of COVID-19 re-infection, infections occurring post COVID-19 vaccine, and investigation of super-spreader events, are forwarded to the NML for variant sequencing.
About the new variants
The new variants of concern include mutations that seem to make the virus more infectious, allowing it to spread more easily. However, they don’t appear to affect the severity of the disease.
Currently, there’s no conclusive evidence that these variants impact the effectiveness of authorized drugs and vaccines.
The variants don’t currently affect diagnosis through authorized laboratory tests.
Given the limited data on the new variants, more research is needed to confirm these early findings. The Canadian and global medical, public health and research communities are actively evaluating these variants and other significant mutations.
The Federal Government put in place additional emergency measures to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Restrictions may change with little notice as the situation evolves. Refer to the latest travel restrictions in Canada.
It is essential for New Brunswickers to stay home as much as possible and travel only when necessary. Whenever a symptom develops, immediately self-isolate and seek testing. Following all public health measures will help keep our citizens safe.
How to register
To get tested, submit a request online or contact Telecare 811 or your healthcare provider. It can take up to 48 hours for a test assessment centre to contact you to schedule an appointment.
Please note that while Telecare 811 can refer you for a test, they do not have access to the testing schedule and will not have access to your testing results.
While awaiting your testing, follow any direction you have been provided regarding self-isolating.
COVID-19 Testing for Children and Youth
New Brunswick offers two options for COVID-19 testing in children and youth. Find information about the process and what to expect here.
- When to take your child for a test
Parents and caregivers should assess their child daily for key symptoms of illness before sending them to school or early learning childcare facility. If your child has one symptom that persists for more than 24 hours, a fever, or two or more symptoms from the list, they should be assessed to determine if they should seek testing for COVID-19. You can use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if your child should seek testing.
Testing is available for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms.
- How to prepare for the test
COVID-19 testing in children and youth is done by swishing and gargling sterile salt water and spitting it into a tube, or by using a swab to collect a sample from their nose. The swish and gargle test is for children ages 4 to 11 years of age. The nose swab is the recommended standard test for all New Brunswickers, however the swish and gargle is available for children who are unable to receive the nose swab. Either test will accurately detect if your child has COVID-19. Watch a video about what you and your child can expect during a COVID-19 swish and gargle test.
Watch: COVID-19 test with a mouth rinse and gargle sample for children aged 4 to 11 years old
Practice the swish, gargle and spit technique with salty water at home before going to the collection centre. Wait at least one hour between practicing and doing the test as practicing could affect test results. Ask your child not to swallow the water or talk when they practice.
See the instructions on how to make saline at home to practice the swish/gargle method.
- How to make salty water for practice
Mix ? teaspoon (2.5mL) of salt in 1 cup of warm water to dissolve and cool to room temperature.
MyHealthNB – COVID-19 Test Results
If you were tested for COVID-19, are 16 or older, have a New Brunswick Medicare Card, and were provided with a Registration Sheet, you may register for a MyHealthNB account to check your own results online at myhealth.gnb.ca.
Parents/Guardians may access the COVID-19 test results for a child (under 16). More information
Waiting for results
While you wait for your COVID-19 test result, make a list of places you have been and people you have encountered over the 10 days before you registered for the test. This will be important information to have available. If your test is positive, someone from Public Health will call you to check on your health, discuss who you have been around, and ask where you spent time while you may have been able to spread the virus to others.
Once you’ve been tested, it can take up to four days to receive your results. Information on how to access your online results via My Health NB will be provided to you by the assessment centre staff when you have your test completed.
Even if you receive negative results, it is important to read the information given when accessing your test online.
Public Health will ask you if you are a COVID ALERT app user. If this person has the app installed on their phone Public Health will provide them with a 10-digit “key”.
The user can then choose to enter this key into the app. When they do, all users who have who have been within 2 metres of them for more than 15 minutes during the previous 14 days 2 will receive a notification.
The notification contains no personal information: other app users never know the identity of the person they were in contact with that was recorded as an exposure, or the time, location or place of exposure.
Most people with mild illness will recover on their own. Your health care provider may recommend treatment or steps you can take to relieve symptoms. For those with more severe illness, hospitalization may be required.
Contact tracing is an important public health tool to stop viruses like COVID-19 from spreading rapidly in communities.
It helps people get diagnosed earlier and reduces the chance of spreading the virus.
Controlled venues at which seating is offered for the purposes of eating, drinking, socialization, celebration, ceremony or entertainment are required to maintain a record of the names and contact information of all persons who attend. The same applies to anyone who hosts, organizes or permits gatherings larger than 50. Keep information in a secure place and not in the public view. More information can be found in Collection of names and contact information under the Mandatory Order COVID-19.
This will enable Public Health to conduct targeted contact tracing in an expeditious manner should there be a COVID-19 case associated with the facility.
How it works:
- A person has COVID-19 symptoms, takes the online self-referral to book a test and then tests positive.
- Public Health staff interview the positive person to identify public areas they have visited and people they’ve spent time with. These people are contacts. Public Health maintains the privacy of the positive person. Anyone who tests positive can choose to tell others about their diagnosis, but Public Health will not.
- Public Health gets in touch with the close contacts and asks them about symptoms of COVID-19. Close contacts with no symptoms are asked to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their last contact with the case. Contacts with symptoms are sent for testing. Non-close contacts will be asked to self-monitor.
- If a contact tests positive, Public Health will reach out to all their close contacts and restart the process.
If you get sick, tell Public Health about the people you've spent time with. It's crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our province.
Any information you share with Public Health staff is CONFIDENTIAL. This means that your name and personal and medical information will be kept private.
How you can help:
- Download the COVID Alert app.
- Keep a list of who you’ve met with and where you have been. This can be done on your phone, in a notebook or in a calendar.
- If you test positive, be open and honest about the people you’ve spent time with.
In an outbreak the number of confirmed cases is important but the rate at which the number of cases is increasing over time is also important. This information is plotted into a graph called an epidemic curve. The horizontal axis is the time cases are confirmed and the vertical axis is the number of confirmed cases. The epidemic curves of outbreaks typically go in big peaks and then come down. Preventative measures can “flatten the curve”.