COVID-19: What You Need To Know


Music fans around the world are feeling the impact of COVID-19 as public health experts recommend avoiding large gatherings such as a concerts and music festivals.

Pearl Jam, Green Day, BTS, Zac Brown Band, Louis Tomlinson, Mariah Carey and Avril Lavigne are among a growing list of acts who have cancelled or postponed shows or parts of their tours – and festivals like Ultra, Coachella and Stagecoach have been postponed.

MORE: Fan At Tool Concert Diagnosed With COVID-19

More cancellations are expected in the days and weeks to come but if you have tickets to a concert or festival this summer, don’t assume it’s going to be scrapped. Experts believe the virus that causes COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, will chill out as the weather gets warmer.

Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19:

Is it really that risky to go to concerts and festivals?

Obviously, being around a lot of people increases your exposure to all kinds of airborne viruses, but most are not serious. The virus that causes COVID-19, which is about 1/900th the width of a human hair, is spread as droplets leave the mouth or nose.

At gatherings like concerts and festivals, people around you are coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, singing, and cheering. The World Health Organization recommends staying at least three feet away from a sick person – something that is impossible to do at a concert.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) has warned promoters that “public health officials may … ask you to modify, postpone, or cancel large events for the safety and well-being of your event staff, participants, and the community.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has also warned of the risk for COVID-19 at “large gatherings in enclosed spaces.” In a guide for planners of big events like concerts and festival, the PHAC recommends “conducting a risk assessment when determining the public health actions related to a mass gathering during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

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What is the difference between coronavirus and COVID-19?

One is a virus, one is a disease. On Feb. 11, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses announced that the virus has been named “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,” or SARS-CoV-2. This virus causes the disease that the World Health Organization (WHO) named COVID-19. If you become infected by this specific coronavirus, you have COVID-19. (The common cold is caused by a different coronavirus.)

Where did it come from?

SARS-CoV-2 originated in animals and spread to humans. The outbreak was sparked last December in Wuhan in central China.

How serious is it?

John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering is tracking confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world in real time.

As of the morning of March 11, there are 120,944 cases reported in 118 countries, including nearly 81,000 in China and more than 10,000 in Italy. There have been 4,365 deaths, of which more than 3,000 were in China.

According to the PHAC , there are 93 reported cases of COVID-19 in Canada: 39 in B.C., 36 in Ontario, 14 in Alberta and four in Quebec. There has been only one death. The agency said 79 per cent of those infected are over the age of 40.

How does it spread?

The virus is transmitted via tiny droplets of mucous or saliva that leave the mouth or nose of an infected person and travel to the eyes, nose or mouth of someone else. It can also be picked up from surfaces.

According to the PHAC, "respiratory droplets tend to fall within 2 metres of their source, so maintaining a 2 metre distance from others is a precaution to prevent spread."

How quickly does it spread?

A study by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health determined that the median incubation period for the virus that causes COVID-19 is 5.1 days and 97.5 percent of people who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of exposure.

How deadly is COVID-19?

It is too early to know the COVID-19 mortality rate, but on March 5 the WHO said about 3.4 percent of people infected around the world have died. Patients over the age of 60 had higher mortality rates.

By comparison, the mortality rate for seasonal flu, which kills about 400,000 people worldwide every year, is less than one percent. In 2002, SARS infected 8,098 people globally and had a mortality rate of about 10 percent.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to become critically ill from COVID-19. Most people who are infected will experience nothing worse than seasonal flu symptoms.

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How can I avoid getting infected?

Avoid hanging around in large groups of people.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on a regular basis, especially after coughing, sneezing or going to the bathroom. Singing the alphabet song in its entirety while scrubbing your hands should do the trick.

Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Shaking hands is also being discouraged.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 experience fever, cough and shortness of breath.

What should I do if I believe I have COVID-19?

To avoid infecting others, stay home if you are sick. Report your symptoms to your public health authority.

If you are infected, wearing a face mask can protect others who are in direct contact with you, including health care workers and family members.

Whether you are sick or not, always cough or sneeze into your elbow or, preferably, into a tissue (and immediately throw it out).

Why are people stocking up on toilet paper?

No one is exactly sure why there is widespread panic-buying of toilet paper. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that does not affect the digestive system. Any self-quarantine period needs to only last 14 days.

Should I wear a protective masks when I go out?

Like all airborne viruses, SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through the eyes – and tiny particles can penetrate masks. Still, experts agree masks offer some protection if you know you will be in contact with someone who is infected. If you’re healthy and just going about your day, there is little benefit to wearing a protective mask.

Can I get COVID-19 from intimate contact?

Kissing is a good way to spread the virus so you probably want to avoid making out with strangers unless you know they are not infected (a good rule at the best of times). The WHO said coronaviruses are not normally sexually transmitted but it’s too early to know for sure if this is true of SARS-CoV-2.

What about my mobile device?

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Apple recently updated its website with instructions on how to clean its devices.

“Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces,” it reads.

The company says not to use bleach and to avoid getting moisture in any openings.