In COVID-19 Updates

JHWC: Advice on Novel Coronavirus

As-Salāmu ‘Alaykum

As you all know, on December 31, 2019 China alerted the World Health organization about several cases of pneumonia cause by a new virus that has been called 2019nCoV. This is a coronavirus which is in the same family of viruses that causes many diseases including SARS and MERS but also the common cold. There have been about 5000 people affected and 100 deaths mostly in people from Wuhan, China. Most of the deaths have been among older adults with chronic health conditions. There have been 3 cases (no deaths) in Canada 2 of which are in Toronto and 1 in Vancouver.

The following FAQ is meant to help you understand a little more about the situation and answer questions you may have.

What is my risk for getting this virus (2019nCov)?

  • The chances of you getting this infection if you have not been to Wuhan, China and not been exposed to a sick person who has been to this area is very, very low.

What can I do to prevent getting and spreading this virus?

  • The virus is spread by contact and respiratory droplets so you should wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand cleaner during the day. You should also cover your mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Travel to China or Hong Kong is not advised given this current situation.

How will I know if I have the virus?

  • Similar to other viral illnesses, symptoms of this coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal symptoms and possible red eyes (i.e., conjunctivitis). If you have these symptoms you should stay home, drink fluids, and take medicine to control symptoms. If you have been to China in the last 14 days or have been exposed to someone who has travelled there and is now sick, you should notify your doctor.

Is there a cure for the virus?

  • There are no antibiotics, anti virals, or vaccinations for this virus. The treatment is supportive which means you treat the symptoms as mentioned.

Am I at risk for catching this virus by attending majalis at one of our centres?

  • Anytime groups of people get together, there is an increased risk of passing viral and other illnesses from person to person. However, if the people in the gathering have not been to China in the last 14 days and have no symptoms there is very little risk to you. Of course, if you are having fever and cough, you should not attend majalis in person until your symptoms have resolved.

Do I need to wear a mask at the centre?

  • If you are not sick you do not need to wear a mask. In fact, a simple surgical mask will not protect you from respiratory droplets. (A special type of mask called an N-95 which is specially fitted is needed which is not practical). In addition, wearing a mask may induce anxiety among those around you. Those who are experiencing flu like symptoms should wear a mask and see your doctor. They should not attend events at the centre.

As this situation evolves we will continue to update you and the Board of Directors.  If you have specific questions about your situation, please email us at

With Salāms & Du’ās

Dr. Khalil Sivjee and Dr. Selina Hirji
Co-chairs of Health and Wellness Committee