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5 Things to Know About COVID-19 Variants

What is a variant? ᐄᔨᔨᐅᔨᒧᐎᓐ | IIYIYIUYIMUWIN

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Graphic showing how variants evolve as virus passes from one person to another

THE MORE A VIRUS SPREADS, THE MORE IT CHANGES

  • When a virus reproduces in the human body, small changes (called mutations) can happen in its genetic code.
  • This creates new variants, or different versions of a virus.
  • New variants of a virus are expected to occur over time as a virus spreads.
  • Virus variants can act differently when they are transmitted between people.

What's the difference between the original COVID-19 virus and variants of concern? ᐄᔨᔨᐅᔨᒧᐎᓐ | IIYIYIUYIMUWIN

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Graphic showing 3 types of variants

VARIANTS MAY ACT DIFFERENTLY THAN THE ORIGINAL VIRUS

  • Variants of concern cause the same disease as the original COVID-19 virus, with similar symptoms.
  • But variants can have different characteristics than the original virus.
  • Variants become concerning if the changes they show make them more contagious (spread faster), cause more severe or deadly sickness, or make them more resistant to vaccines.
  • In an outbreak, variants of concern can lead to more cases of COVID-19, pressuring health care resources.
  • More cases mean more people may end up in the hospital.
  • In Quebec, variant cases are two times likely to be admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 
Graphic showing virus spreading around the globe

IT IS NORMAL FOR VIRUSES TO CHANGE

  • In countries where variants have been present for months, they have become the main strain of COVID-19. 
  • In Quebec, the number of variant cases is growing, with variants of concern reported in most regions.
  • So far, four (4) coronavirus variants have been reported in Quebec (variants originating in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria).
  • The South African variant has been reported in Abitibi-Temiscamingue (Region 8).
  • Quebec expects variants of concern will become the main strain of COVID-19 in the province in April.
  • Variants of concern are already predominant in Ontario.
Graphic showing COVID vaccination logo

VACCINES STILL HELP PROTECT US

  • Current COVID-19 vaccines provide some protection against variants. They may be less effective against certain variants, including the South African variant.  
  • As scientists continue to study the coronavirus, they learn more about its variants and vaccines. 
  • For now, vaccines remain the most effective measure to protect individual people against severe forms of COVID-19. Vaccines are an extra layer of protection. 
Graphic showing 5 preventive practices

PUBLIC HEALTH PREVENTIVE MEASURES PROTECT US FROM VARIANTS

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water for 20 seconds.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from other people when possible.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when required.

 

  

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Being out on the land is a good place to be. But even in the bush, we can still be at risk of getting infectious diseases. To reduce our chances of getting sick, everyone is encouraged to follow guidelines from our community alert levels, along with basic preventive measures.

These guidelines provide recommendations and tips to gather and visit safely during Phases 2, 3 and 4 of Eeyou Istchee’s Pandemic Plan.

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