Novel Coronavirus COVID-19


NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

While many people will develop only mild symptoms, some groups appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. Those at higher risk may develop more serious, even fatal, symptoms such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure. 

High risk groups include those:

  • 60 years of age and older
  • living with a chronic health condition (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, renal disease or chronic lung condition)
  • with a weakened immune system (e.g. cancer or autoimmune disease)

People over the age of 60 are also more likely to have underlying chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. While not all individuals over 60 years of age have underlying chronic health conditions, they are still at risk of becoming sicker compared to younger individuals due to changes that the human body goes through with age. Older people don't have as strong an immune system so they are more vulnerable to infectious disease. The risk increases with age.

Canadian statistics show that greater than 95% of deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred in people aged 60 and over. People over the age of 60 are also more likely to require hospitalization or admission to intensive care.

Given the increased risk, individuals in high risk groups should consider:

  • Staying home if possible and avoiding unnecessary outings and gatherings. Using drop-off/ delivery services for groceries and medications, or seeking help from friends and family.
  • Avoiding close contact and maintaining an appropriate physical distance, preferably in outdoor settings, if choosing to visit with family.
  • Avoiding large groups of people/ crowds.
  • Avoiding contact with anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Following physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Limiting the number of people you come into contact with at this time to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Having a plan for if you get sick, that includes who can care for you.

NEW Last updated: October 6, 2020

While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. This is true in Canada as well as in other countries that have reported widespread transmission of COVID-19.

There is much more to be learned about how COVID-19 affects children. So far, we know children are less likely than adults to spread or get sick from COVID-19. Between March 12 and July 1, Manitoba data shows that approximately five per cent of all COVID-19 cases are in children (aged 19 years and younger).
While many children will develop only mild symptoms, some appear to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Those at higher risk can develop more serious symptoms. High risk groups include those:

  • less than one year of age
  • with a chronic medical condition (e.g., diabetes, chronic lung conditions)
with weakened immune systems (e.g., cancer, transplant recipients)

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Unlike adults, most children generally present with no symptoms, or more mild symptoms. Otherwise, children generally experience the same symptoms as adults. The most commonly reported symptoms include a dry cough, aching/painful muscles, malaise, a fever and a sore throat.

In addition, children and adolescents may also present with toes and/or fingers that have a purplish-blue discoloration. Mainstream media have called this “COVID toes,” a benign symptom that generally goes away without treatment.

For a full list of COVID-19 symptoms, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/about/index.html.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

It is important to encourage children to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things all Manitobans should do to stay healthy. This includes:

  • staying home when sick, no matter how mild the symptoms
  • maintaining a two metre/six foot physical distance from people outside of their immediate household
  • practicing good hand hygiene and cough etiquette
  • avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth especially when they are away from home and visiting public places
  • providing age-appropriate information to help them better understand and cope with COVID-19 and all of the changes that have resulted to their daily lives

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

There have been reports from Europe and North America that describe small clusters of children and adolescents with a rare condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This is also commonly referred to as paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS).

Although this kind of illness has been seen in other infections in the past, MIS-C is new and has been associated with COVID-19. Cases of MIS-C have been identified from infants to adolescents. The symptoms are similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, in which different parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

Early symptoms most commonly reported include:

  • fever
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • neck pain
  • rash
  • extreme tiredness
  • breathing difficulty/shortness of breath
  • conjunctivitis
  • swollen lips, hands or feet

Some symptoms (e.g., breathing difficulties/shortness of breath, severe abdominal pain, inability to wake/stay awake) can be very serious and require urgent medical care and treatment. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care centre should your child be experiencing any severe symptoms.

MIS-C has been diagnosed in some children after they were infected with COVID-19, or in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. MIS-C may begin weeks after a child is infected with COVID-19, and in some cases, the child and their caregivers may not even know they had been infected. Cases of MIS-C have typically been reported in areas with high levels of COVID-19 in the community.

Since MIS-C is a new disease, it can be challenging to diagnose, but early diagnosis is important. Treatment for MIS-C requires care from pediatric specialists in a hospital, and involves treatments that decrease the inflammation. The majority of children with MIS-C have recovered, but whether there are any long-term effects is unknown at this time.

Even though MIS-C and COVID-19 emerged at the same time, we don’t yet know what causes MIS-C. There is still much to learn about MIS-C and how it affects children, including finding out the causes of MIS-C and why some children have gotten sick with MIS-C while others have not.

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Although rare, MIS-C can be very serious if not diagnosed and treated early. Parents, guardians and caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children and MIS-C, and seek medical care.

If you think your child may have COVID-19 or MIS-C, contact your child’s health care provider, or call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free) for advice on testing, assessment and treatment. If it is a medical emergency, call 911 or take your child to the nearest urgent care centre or emergency department.

Go to www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/bewell/helpingothers.html for more information about COVID-19 and kids.

Pregnancy can place people at higher risk of serious complications from respiratory infections because of normal changes occurring in the body that affect the respiratory and immune systems. Some respiratory infections (e.g., influenza and COVID-19) during pregnancy may also lead to other adverse outcomes, such as premature labor and delivery.

Data suggests that in general, most pregnant individuals who acquire COVID-19 in pregnancy experience mild to moderate symptoms and deliver healthy babies at full-term. Pregnant COVID-19 patients are more likely to need intensive care than COVID-19 patients who are not pregnant. Preterm birth and stillbirth are more common than normal in pregnant COVID-19 patients, and their babies are more likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Other potential complications include premature birth, stillbirth, and caesarean delivery. Women with the following risk factors are at an additional elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19:

  • age (35 years and older)
  • severe and/or uncontrolled asthma
  • obesity
  • pre-pregnancy or gestational diabetes
  • pre-pregnancy high blood pressure
  • heart disease

NEW Last updated: August 12, 2020

Evidence related to COVID-19 risk to the fetus/newborn is limited. Currently, there isn’t strong evidence of vertical transmission of COVID-19 from mother to fetus (i.e. mother passing the infection to her unborn child). However, there have been a few cases of possible vertical transmission, but these have been in situations where the pregnant woman was very sick with COVID-19 and she also had another medical condition that weakened her immune system. Fortunately, for most pregnant women with COVID-19, their newborn infant has had minimal complications. It is also important to remember that newborns can become infected after birth by their caregivers and anyone else they are in contact with. Infants less than a year of age are at higher risk for more severe illness due to COVID-19. It is important to follow recommendations provided by your health care providers and healthcare facility around the time of birth and after returning home, to lower these risks.