What risk does COVID-19 pose?

In general, the risk posed by a virus depends on many factors including how easily it spreads between people, the severity of illness it causes, and access to reliable medical measures that can help control its impact (e.g., vaccines).

COVID-19 can pose a risk to you by two means: risk of exposure and risk of serious illness.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-Risk-Assessment

Risk of exposure

While the overall risk of getting COVID-19 remains high for all Canadians, some people may be at greater risk than others. Your risk is greater than others if:

  • you work in close contact with many individuals
  • you live in a group setting where the virus may spread more easily (e.g., nursing homes, correctional facilities, or group residences)
  • you face barriers that limit your ability to follow the effective public health measures to protect yourself (e.g., people with disabilities needing to use services in non-accessible environments)

Even if you don't belong to any of the above groups, your risk can increase if:

  • you don't maintain physical distancing and mask-wearing, especially in settings where the risk of respiratory droplets or aerosol transmission is high (e.g., closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact situations)
  • you do not wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to maintain hand hygiene
  • you have not been fully vaccinated against the virus, or have not received your recommended booster doses

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-Risk-Assessment

Risk of severe illness

COVID-19 symptoms may range from little-to-no symptoms to severe illness and death. Most cases are not severe, but certain people are at a higher risk of developing complications, including:

  • Adults aged 50 and older (risk increasing by age)
  • People who have underlying chronic medical conditions including:
    • lung disease
    • heart disease
    • high blood pressure
    • diabetes
    • kidney disease
    • liver disease
    • dementia
    • stroke
  • People with a weakened immune system, due to a medical condition (e.g., cancer) or from taking medications that affect it (e.g., chemotherapy)
  • People who are living with obesity, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-Risk-Assessment

Are other special populations more at risk?

  • Pregnancy: In general, COVID-19 infection during pregnancy leads to mild-to-moderate symptoms or none at all. However, pregnant individuals who also have a pre-existing health condition including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or who became pregnant at an older age may be at a higher risk of more severe disease. Individuals living in communities with a greater spread of COVID-19 variants may be at risk for more severe infection. While current evidence shows that COVID-19 transmission to the baby during pregnancy is rare, ongoing studies are being done.
  • Breast-feeding: Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 isn't transmitted via breastmilk. That said, the decision to continue or start breast-feeding should be discussed with your health care providers. Taking precautions while breast-feeding can help to lower the overall infection risk. This includes washing your hands frequently and sterilizing any breast-feeding equipment before and after each session.

You can further reduce your infection risk by getting vaccinated against the virus. Individuals who are pregnant or breast-feeding are advised to receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (including booster doses), as they have been proven to be safe. For children aged 6 months or older, the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccines are approved by Health Canada.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-Risk-Assessment

What are COVID-19 variants?

Viruses, including COVID-19, have genetic material that can change over time. Significant genetic mutations, also known as variants, have appeared over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the main variants of COVID-19 in Canada are Omicron and its sub-lineages. Certain variants are known to be more infectious than others, whereas others may affect COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.

If you live in a region with a high proportion of COVID-19 variants, your risk of infection may be higher. Taking measures to limit your risk of infection, such as by washing your hands often, minimizing interactions with others and getting vaccinated against the virus, can keep you and your community safe. You may also be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose that offers protection against multiple strains of the virus.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/COVID-19-Risk-Assessment