Feb. 6, 2020

UCalgary monitoring coronavirus developments daily

Find key health information on UCalgary coronavirus website
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Editor's note: For the most up-to-date information about the University of Calgary's response to the spread of coronavirus, visit UCalgary's COVID-19 website.

Several weeks into the outbreak of a novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, the University of Calgary continues to closely monitor the situation and is prepared to respond and inform the campus community as required if circumstances change.

Alberta Health Services has advised that the risk is still low in Alberta and there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus here.

For information regarding travel updates, relevant links to key sources of information concerning the coronavirus, and Influenza, visit the UCalgary coronavirus website.

The attention surrounding the recent outbreak coincides with the influenza season in Alberta.

Simple and best advice

Experts agree that there is one key thing you can do to help protect yourself from the flu: Wash your hands.

This is simple advice and a universally effective action to take when it comes to staying healthy during peak influenza season in Calgary, when viral infections are most prevalent.

It’s a practice preached for most of us since childhood, but soap and water really is a recipe for avoiding sickness — and one of the University of Calgary’s top infectious disease experts says this is the best thing you can do.

“Basic sanitary habits are key, which means washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water, and not touching your face,” says Dr. Craig Jenne, PhD, assistant professor in the Cumming School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Imaging Approaches Towards Studying Infection.

As an expert in microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases, Jenne knows exactly what it takes to steer clear of what can leave you sick, miserable or even worse. Hand hygiene is the best universal defence against almost every illness, whether it’s influenza, cold or coronavirus, if that highly publicized respiratory disease reaches this province (vist Ucalgary’s coronavirus information website here.)

Peak season for influenza in Calgary

The influenza virus is in Calgary and at peak contagion, so protection is vital. While hand washing is important, Jenne says getting immunized is the single best defence against the flu. “Step one, for influenza, is getting a flu shot,” explains Jenne. “A flu shot is the best way to lower your risk of getting influenza, and that keeps you out of hospital and can even prevent you from dying.”

What other specific advice does Jenne offer students, staff and faculty at the University of Calgary, to reduce the potential of contracting the flu or other viruses?

Jenne says that while it can be difficult to avoid crowded areas in a place where so many people work and study, keeping yourself well rested and stress-free leaves your immune system in top shape.

“Being tired and stressed can make you susceptible, so maintain a good school/life balance if possible,” he says. And finally, Jenne advises people to drink water, to boost your body’s natural anti-virus system.

“Staying hydrated keeps our mucus membranes moist, and they are our first line of defence against viral infections,” he explains.

Top tips to stay healthy during peak flu season

  • Get immunized
  • Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available
  • Stay home when sick
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get plenty of rest and take care of your mental well-being.