CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) Briefing Note for CASN Members

March 4, 2020
CASN Community Health Interest Group


“The key to containing this virus is to break the chains of transmission.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, February 2020


The coronavirus is not a crisis in Canada and the risk is low at this point, but the situation is dynamic. The WHO has called on every country to take an all-of-society approach to inform populations, expand surveillance, find, isolate, and care for every case, and trace every contact. Proactive planning is recommended.


Contact and droplet precautions are being implemented. No vaccines are currently available.

Precaution Measures

  • Frequent hand cleaning with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or alternatively, alcohol-based
    (>60%) hand rub
  • Avoid touching face after touching surfaces or sick people
  • Clean surfaces such as work desks regularly with disinfectant
  • Sneeze and cough into sleeve or a tissue that is discarded immediately into a closed rubbish bin
  • Stay at home if feeling unwell and call primary health care provider or local health professional
  • If sick, eat and sleep separately from others in the house/apartment, and use separate utensils and cutlery to eat
  • Avoid travel to countries identified by the Government of Canada
  • If exposed to the virus, contact the local Public Health organization immediately and self-quarantine for 14 days

Questions for nursing faculty

  • What communication structures are in place to inform faculty, staff, and students about the
    evolving situation?
  • Is mask FIT testing up to date and are existing protocols being followed?
  • Are faculty, clinical educators, staff, and students up to date on transmission reduction?
  • How can we be proactive about the virus without increasing fear and anxiety?
  • Should the focus on infection precautions in curricula be increased?
  • Do absence policies need to be revised in light of the virus?
  • Are students receiving precautionary measures in their clinical setting?
  • Do students have opportunities to practice donning and removing PPE?


Typically, symptoms of COVID-19 look like flu and are mild to moderate:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Headache

However, some people experience

  • shortness of breath,
  • difficulty breathing, or
  • viral pneumonia in both lungs.

As of March 4, 2020, the fatality rate in Wuhan, China is between 2% and 4%. The overall case-fatality rate was 2.3%. No deaths occurred in those aged 9 and younger; those aged 70–79 had an 8% fatality rate, and those aged 80 and older a 14.8% fatality rate.

Questions for Nursing Faculty

  • Are faculty, clinical educators, staff, and students aware of the symptoms?
  • Do faculty, clinical educators, staff, and students know whom to contact if they are concerned about symptoms (health info-line, primary health care provider, local public health unit)?
  • If the virus does spread locally, can we ensure no group is stigmatised?
  • How should institutions support international and out-of-province students who need to selfisolate?


If the virus spreads locally, faculty, staff, and students may need to stay home. If social distancing is required,
strategies for maintaining educational and learning opportunities are needed.

Questions for Nursing Faculty

  • Can theoretical courses be moved to an online format easily?
  • Can evaluations be conducted online?
  • Should students go into clinical placements if the virus spreads locally?
  • How will decisions be made about clinical courses and social distancing measures?
  • How will such decisions be communicated to faculty, staff, and students?
  • What support structures need to be in place?
  • What steps are needed for faculty and staff to maintain operations at a distance?

Websites of Interest


Download – Briefing Note: CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)