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colab statement on COVID 19

on march 11, 2020 the world health organization [WHO] declared the COVID 19 outbreak a pandemic, no longer affecting one community or one country but a global pandemic affecting every country. ‘the situation will worsen and countries will need to ‘strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing economic and social disruption and respecting human rights’ WHO director general tedros adhanom ghebreyesus stated.1 the cancer collaborative is closely monitoring the latest developments related to the outbreak caused by COVID 19 and is calling on provinces to act rapidly to contain the spread of COVID 19- taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of canadians and safeguard the capacity of our health systems to sufficient respond.

this is a rapidly evolving situation and we are following updates provided by the WHO and the public health agency of canada, which can be found here.

facts about COVID 19 

  1. this novel virus presents a unique threat to vulnerable populations, including the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, including cancer patients. 

  2. research published in the new england journal of medicine suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be similar to those of a severe seasonal influenza or a pandemic influenza.

what you can do

we encourage everyone to follow the measures laid out but government and public health officials

  1. wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

  2. avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  3. stay home

  4. if you must go out, practice social distancing, maintaining at least 2m distance

  5. people with cancer or a history of cancer may be more vulnerable to infection and severe events related to COVID 19 – to reduce the number of visits to healthcare facilities and risk of exposure oncologists are calling for medical distancing as well 

every individual has their part to play to reduce the risk of spread the virus #stayhome

symptoms can include


cough [dry]

difficulty breathing


if you have symptoms, canadian public health officials recommend to self isolate and call their health provider or local public health authority.

some provinces, including british columbiaalberta and ontario, have online self-assessments to help you determine your next steps. [B.C’s and alberta’s online assessment tools are especially easy to use, and you don’t need to live in these provinces to access them.] depending on your answers to a series of questions, these assessments can tell you whether you require emergency medical care [this is only if you experience any of the following: severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, a very difficult time waking up, confusion, loss of consciousness]. they can also tell you whether to call 811[or 1.866.797.0000 in ontario, 1.888.315.9257 in manitoba, 1.867.975.5771 in nunavut] and wait until someone is available to answer, or whether you need to be tested at all.

you only need to be tested if you have respiratory symptoms and are either in hospital, or likely to be admitted to hospital, a healthcare worker, a resident of a long term care home, or are connected to a cluster or outbreak of infections.


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