This is a virus, which is present across the world at this point. It is a new virus, which we do not have much information on; but rest assured we are learning every day.
What we think we know includes that it is spread by large droplets (coughing, sneezing) and comes in to our bodies by our mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth etc). It is extremely contagious, and for the most part, in young healthy people, will cause mostly mild symptoms.
However, we also know that people over the age of 60, and those with chronic medical conditions, are at a higher risk of having more severe symptoms.
So what we need to do as a population is implement measures, which we can all do, to help slow the rate of transmission. We need to do this as our resources to help people are limited.
Why? Well, if we all get sick at the same time, there will be a large spike in people who need hospitalization and intensive care, and we may run out of resources to help them. If we can slow down the spread, then the people who need help will get sick at different times and therefore we will have more resources to help them.
The issues we will be discussing today are all about slowing the spread!
First let’s talk about what we can do day to day when we are well.
Social Distancing is a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully decrease or slow community transmission of the virus.
How can we do this in different aspects of our lives:
All of our employers should be coming up with strategies enabling people to work from home as much as possible. All meetings should be done virtually, or with minimal people. If it needs to be face to face, then do not shake hands, and sit at least 6 feet apart from one another.
There should be no travel for work, again virtual meetings can be accomplished quite easily.
If there is a requirement to go into your workplace, there should be hand washing readily available, signs reminding employees about proper hygiene practices. There should be more regular cleaning of workplace surfaces with appropriate disinfectant solutions. And if someone reminds you to wash your hands, don't be offended, say thank you. We're all in this together.
Again, we want to limit our exposure to busy places, so if you can avoid public transit, or use it at quieter times, do this. If you can walk or ride your bike, try to increase this. Ride Sharing or carpooling will limit your exposure to people, ensuring that people are healthy and utilizing proper hygiene.
We should be limiting our social interaction with each other, avoiding heavily frequented areas such as bars, busy restaurants and large social gatherings (weddings, parties etc). Having smaller gatherings at your place with people who are not symptomatic are preferred. Consider delaying or cancelling children’s birthday party’s or doing them outside if possible.
We should be avoiding all unnecessary travel at this point. Travelling to an area that is not affected, may mean that you are bringing the disease there. In many places, there is now a 14 day self isolate in place for returning travels from anywhere outside of Canada. This means that you, and any travel, companions must stay in your house area (yard is fine) for 14 days - you will have to get groceries delivered, not go to work, not go to social activities etc.
If you are isolated, make sure it is a place that is separate from any family members that did not travel with you, or isolate all of you at the same time.
As much as you can, avoiding stores and places where people congregate is advised. If you can shop at less peak times, or order online from local vendors to do pick up or get things delivered.
Try to avoid crowded areas such as gyms, recreation centres, pools. Spend more time outside going for walks, bike rides or swimming in lakes. Do some home workouts, ask your trainer to do virtual training for you at home!!!
If you do go to busy places, ensure good hand hygiene, disinfect surfaces frequently and avoid them entirely if you have any symptoms.
This is going to be a challenging time! Make the best of it…spend time with your families and close friends, while ensuring to practice good hygiene. Avoiding crowded areas and keeping to yourself will slow the transmission of this virus, helping to keep our most vulnerable members safer!