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All About COVID-19 Variants

What are variants and how can you protect yourself against them?

 

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 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.
Graphic showing virus spreading around the globe

IT IS NORMAL FOR VIRUSES TO CHANGE

  • Variants have become the main strain of COVID-19 in many countries, including the province of Quebec. 
  • So far, five (5) coronavirus variants have been reported in Quebec: variants originating in the UK (Alpha), Brazil (Gamma), South Africa (Beta), India (Delta) and, more recently, South Africa (Omicron).
  • For updated information about the variants detected in Quebec, refer to https://www.inspq.qc.ca/covid-19/donnees/variants
Graphic showing COVID vaccination logo

VACCINES STILL HELP PROTECT US

  • Current COVID-19 vaccines provide some protection against variants.
  • They may be less effective in preventing the transmission of certain variants, including the Delta and Omicron variants.
  • High vaccination coverage in a population reduces the spread of the virus and helps prevent new variants from emerging
  • A booster shot helps to decrease our risk of getting infected and reduces transmission.
  • People who are fully vaccinated can still get infected and spread the virus to others. However, it appears that vaccinated people spread COVID-19 for a shorter period than do unvaccinated people, and are also much less likely to develop severe complications and are less likely to be hospitalized.
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Graphic showing 5 preventive practices

PUBLIC HEALTH PREVENTIVE MEASURES PROTECT US FROM VARIANTS

  • Be sure that you and your family are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. To know how many doses are currently recommended, click here.   

  • Sneeze into your elbow. 

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. 

  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 metres) apart from other people when possible. 

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when required. 

 

 

Explore more

The Delta variant is more contagious and can cause more severe disease.  A person with the Delta variant will infect more people than if they had other variants. The Delta variant may lead to more hospitalizations and complications.

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 deconfinement phase guidelines and 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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