COVID-19 and your benefitsWednesday, Mar 4, 2020
We want to keep you and your family safe, healthy and informed. We’ve put together some information on COVID-19 (the new coronavirus), how to protect against it, and what you should do if you become ill while you’re at home or abroad.
Coronavirus and your benefits
COVID-19 is the name of a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. There are now thousands of cases in various countries and regions around the world. The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available. There are some confirmed cases in Canada so here are some facts to help keep you and your family safe, healthy and informed.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold. COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously identified in humans. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact. For details visit the Canadian Government website on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently asked questions (FAQ).
What are the symptoms?
Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu.
Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known infectious period for this disease.
Symptoms have included:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pneumonia in both lungs
In severe cases, infection can lead to death.
How do I prevent it?
There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against COVID-19. In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- stay home if you are sick
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
If you want to know more visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks.
What if I am travelling?
The risk to Canadian travellers abroad is generally low but will vary depending on the destination. It is important for all travellers to monitor their health when they return to Canada. If you are returning from a trip the Public Health Agency of Canada asks that you:
- Monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for 14 days after you arrive in Canada. If you have these symptoms, call the public health authority in the province or territory you are in to inform them. They will provide advice on what you should do.
- If you have travelled to Hubei province, China, in the last 14 days, limit your contact with others for 14 days from the date that you left Hubei. This means self-isolate and stay at home. Contact the local public health authority in your province or territory within 24 hours of arriving in Canada.
If you are planning a trip and to ensure safe, healthy travels please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice issued by the Canadian government. Here are more details from Pacific Blue Cross about travel insurance and visiting a destination where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19.
What if I become ill after I return from a trip?
If you develop symptoms and have travelled to the province of Hubei in China or have been in contact with someone who has:
- Stay at home and avoid contact with others
- Follow up with your health care professional
If you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing in the next 14 days:
- Call your health care provider or local public health authority.
- Tell them your symptoms and that you were travelling in the province of Hubei, China.
- Let them know whether you have had direct contact with animals or a sick person, especially if they have had symptoms.
If you are ill and must visit a health care professional:
- Call ahead or tell them when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness.
- You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent the spread of the illness.
If you feel sick during travel to Canada or upon arrival:
- Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff or a Canadian border services officer.
- They will decide whether you need further medical assessment by a quarantine officer.
How do my benefits cover me if I am ill?
If you have a group benefits (extended health) plan with Pacific Blue Cross:
- Group benefits vary from plan to plan. For details visit your Pacific Blue Cross Member Profile
- If you have travel insurance provided by your employer through your group extended health plan, be sure to check your benefits and coverage limitations before you travel. Your plan includes a pre-travel service through Medi-Assist which can help provide information on Government Advisories and recommended vaccinations for your destinations. Call 1-888-699-9333 (toll-free within Canada or the US) to learn more.
If you have disability coverage with Pacific Blue Cross:
- Sick and vacation policies will vary depending on your employer and is outside your benefit plan with Pacific Blue Cross.
- Given the unique circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we have instituted special practices to handle disability claims. If you have been quarantined or are self-quarantining and have questions about your disability coverage call us right away to determine your eligibility and next steps.
- For basic information about disability coverage and how it works, click here.
- For details on your personal health insurance plan visit your Pacific Blue Cross Member Profile.
- For details on your travel medical or trip protection insurance, be sure to check your benefits and coverage limitations and visit frequently asked questions before you travel. Your plan includes a pre-travel service through Medi-Assist which can help provide information on Government Advisories and recommended vaccinations for your destinations. Call 1-888-699-9333 (toll-free within Canada or the US) to learn more.
- For more information on how COVID-19 may impact travel medical and/or trip protection insurance click here.
This article will be updated as details on the COVID-19 evolve.