COVID-19 FAQs: How is COVID-19 spread? | Great Lakes Guide

Environment and Education

COVID-19 FAQs: How is COVID-19 spread?

Published April 2, 2020

A note from the Great Lakes Guide team:

The purpose of Great Lakes Guide is to help you connect with the Great Lakes and your local natural spaces. It is important for everyone to understand the virus that is currently in this region, and the implications of going outside at this time.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that we come together as a community and connect with nature and with each other.

There is a lot of information circling the world right now. The word ‘pandemic’ is daunting, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding the language that we use to talk about COVID-19.

We are here to help you safely understand the coronavirus and what these unprecedented times mean for your own physical and mental health.

We have compiled a series of Frequently Asked Questions surrounding COVID-19 to help you understand and navigate the virus.


How is COVID-19 spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily from person-to-person through respiratory droplets (droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes). These droplets can then enter the mouth, nose, or be inhaled by people nearby.

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Photo Credit: Hermann Kaser (Flickr: Link)

That is why it is so important to maintain social distancing practices and stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from others. It is possible for a person to get sick from touching an object that has the virus on it (and then touching their face), but this is less likely.

If you think that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you can use the government of Canada’s self-assessment tool. This tool will help guide you to the appropriate next steps and additional resources.


How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

COVID-19 can live on surfaces, but the survival time of the virus depends on the material of that surface.

A recent study from The New England Journal of Medicine determined that the virus was still detectable on copper for up to four hours, cardboard for up to 24 hours, plastic for up to 72 hours, and steel for up to 72 hours.

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Photo Credit: Daria Sannikova (Pexels: Link)

As time passes, the amount of virus does decrease rapidly on each surface. That also means that your risk of infection from touching those items also decreases with time. The fewer viral particles that you’re exposed to, the less you risk getting infected.

Always wash your hands after touching new objects that enter your home (like boxes that are delivered). Throw away any new packaging and do not touch your face. It’s also a good idea to disinfect commonly used surfaces daily (in bathrooms and kitchens, for example).


How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

Incubation period is the amount of time that it would take you to develop symptoms of a virus from the time you are exposed to it.

Current research suggests that the incubation period for COVID-19 is between two and 14 days. This means that you could start showing symptoms anywhere from 2-14 days after you were exposed to the virus. That is why the recommended isolation period (after travel and if you are showing symptoms) is a minimum of 14 days.

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Photo Credit: John Tuesday (Unsplash: Link)


Are my pets at risk for contracting or spreading COVID-19?

No. There is currently no evidence to suggest that your pets are at risk of contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus. There is also no evidence suggesting that livestock, wildlife, or other animal products can spread COVID-19.

The only risk with family pets is simply that they, like any surface in your home, could carry germs from one infected person to another. This means that if you have an infected person in your house, and they cough on your dog, and then you kiss your dog… well, that might lead to the virus spreading.

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Photo Credit: Simone Dalmeri (Unsplash: Link)

You should continue practicing healthy sanitary habits around your home. If you have an infected individual in your house, they should stay isolated for the minimum suggested 14 days. Always wash your hands and practice safe distancing from others (2 metres or 6 feet).

Find the answers to more COVID-19 FAQs:

What is COVID-19?

How can I reduce my chance of getting sick with COVID-19?

Can I go outside in Ontario during COVID-19?

Do I need to stock up on supplies during COVID-19?