Health

How To Keep Yourself And Others Safe During COVID-19

emergency sign
By now, you’ve already heard about the widespread virus that is COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. While the word ‘pandemic’ may ring alarm bells in your system, it is important to note that the term refers not to the lethality of the virus, but instead refers to a virus’ sustainability and transmission to various geographical regions.

What we currently know of COVID-19 is that it is spread through close contact, respiratory transmission, when an affected person coughs or sneezes, displaying similar symptoms to the flu and the common cold, and through touching contaminated surfaces and objects. Studies have also shown that the virus can be spread by people who are asymptomatic and are showing no symptoms, making it extremely challenging to detect and contain since people lacking symptoms are seldom tested.

Cases of COVID-19 are increasing daily and it is in all of our best interests to be proactive and take deliberate and active measures during these challenging times. While vaccines are still in development, we need to do our part to help mitigate the epidemic curve and prevent overwhelming our healthcare system due to the exponential growth of infections.
“Fear can make us panic, or do things which make matters worse, like circulating rumours online, hoarding face masks or food, or blaming particular groups for the outbreak.” – Lee Hsein Loong, PM of Singapore
Continue reading to find out ways on how you can keep yourself and others safe during COVID-19.

Situation In Canada

As of March 28, 2020, there has been 571,678 confirmed cases and 26,495 deaths worldwide. (1) Canada has 5,303 confirmed cases and a total of 59 deaths of which the coronavirus has claimed. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, COVID-19 risk varies between and within communities, but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high. (2)

There are much more severe outcomes for those that are at higher risk which include the elderly population (aged 65 years and older), people who already have their immune system compromised and those with underlying health conditions. To see current updates of the coronavirus in Canada, please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak Update.

What You Can Do To Prevent The Spread of COVID-19

Now is the time to take precaution so that we can stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada and our communities through practicing proper hygiene etiquette, regularly disinfecting and cleaning surfaces and objects, social distancing, following self-monitoring, self-isolating or isolating protocols and being prepared in case you or a family member contracts the virus.

Hygiene

Handwashing
It is highly encouraged for everyone to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom, before and after eating a meal, and handling objects. If soap is not available, an alcohol-based sanitizer can be used as an alternative.
Sneezing and Coughing
When it comes to sneezing and/or coughing, it is best practice to avoid using your hands when you do so. Instead, use a tissue or the bend of your arm when coughing or sneezing and immediately dispose of any tissues after using them and wash your hands right away.

Rule of thumb: Avoid touching your face, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.

Disinfecting High-Touch Surfaces

Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces can help limit the possible transfer of microorganisms in your home. Common high-touch surfaces include:  
  • Electronics (i.e., phones, television remotes)
  • Countertops
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Cabinet handles
  • Faucet handles
  • Toilets
Here is a list of Health Canada approved hard surface disinfectants which are likely to be effective against the coronavirus.

Social Distancing

Keeping at a distance and minimizing close contact with others is an effective way to help slow the spread of illness from COVID-19. Social distancing includes:

  • • Reducing your exposure to crowded places and non-essential gatherings
  • • Limiting contact with high-risk adults and those in poor health conditions
  • • Avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  • • Keeping a 2 meter (or 6 feet) distance from others

Following Self-Monitoring, Self-Isolation and Isolation Protocols

Self-monitoring or self-isolation and isolation is not the same as social distancing. One of the key differences is that quarantine or isolation restricts the movement of people within a certain area or zone in order to limit the transmission and spread of an infection. Social distancing places no locational constraints and is a behavioural practice to lower risks in most circumstances.

For a printable pdf on the differences between self-monitoring, self-isolation and isolation, click here.
Self-monitoring means to:
• monitor yourself for 14 days for symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fever and difficulty breathing
• avoid crowded places and increase your personal space from others whenever possible

If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself from others immediately and contact your Public Health Authority as soon as possible.
Self-isolation means to:
• stay at home and monitor yourself for symptoms, even if mild, for 14 days
• avoid contact with others

Self-isolate if you:
• have no symptoms and
• have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days or
• have come in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or
• have been asked to do so by your Public Health Authority

If you develop symptoms, even if mild, stay home, avoid other people and contact your Public Health Authority as soon as possible.
Isolating yourself means to:
• stay home until the local public health authority says you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus
• avoid contact with others

You need to be isolated if you:
• have symptoms, even if mild, associated with COVID-19 or
• have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or
• are waiting for laboratory test results or
• have been advised to do so by your Public Health Authority

If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your healthcare provider or Public Health Authority and follow their instructions.

Being Prepared In Case You Or A Family Member Becomes Ill

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. If you or a family member becomes ill, you need to be prepared to self-isolate at home and avoid contact with other people to help prevent the spread to others in your home and community.

To view a comprehensive list of following measures you should take on how to isolate at home if you experience associated symptoms to COVID-19, awaiting results or have been recently diagnosed, please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19.

Please make sure to take the proper precautions listed above regarding limiting contact with others, proper and frequent hygiene practices and monitoring your symptoms as directed by your health care provider or Public Health Authority.

Additional Resources

If you think that you may have COVID-19, take this self-assessment test.

For information on COVID-19, please refer to the Government Of Canada’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). For information on COVID-19, specific to your province, please refer to their Provincial and Territorial Resources For COVID-19 page.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *