What Precautions should you take during the COVID-19 pandemic?
With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) being declared a pandemic, it is foremost on the mind of many. Schools will be closed to prevent the spread of the virus and to implement better sanitation measures for when children return. Many businesses have implemented a work from home policy, bars and restaurants are also shutting down and a state of emergency has been declared. It makes sense that the general public is worried about contracting the virus. The best way to handle this health crisis it to take precautionary measures and receive up to date information to avoid getting COVID-19 and to protect you and your family. We share some in this post from the CDC and Public Health websites, but encourage you to visit those sites for the latest information.
How do I avoid catching COVID-19?
Precautions to avoid contracting the Coronavirus
Stocking up on toilet paper might give you peace of mind but it really won’t do much to help you avoid contracting COVID-19. The CDC urges the following measures be taken:
- Avoid close contact with people and avoid crowds
Try to maintain a distance of 6 feet away from people if possible. The virus is spread through hand to hand contact, but if an infected person coughs or sneezes while you are standing nearby, you are still at risk.
- Stay home if you are ill
To ensure the safety and well-being of others if you’re feeling unwell, stay home. This is recommended by the CDC during cold and flu season anyways. Listen, this is the age of Netflix, working from home, and online shopping. At least there are resources.
- Change the way you greet others
Remember sci-fi greetings on TV? Think Mork from Mork and Mindy, or Spock from Star Trek…though strange their greetings didn’t involve hand to hand contact. Though North American cultures may find it strange, many cultures have greetings that don’t involve a hand shake- such as a bow. Consider an elbow bump, or a friendly wave. A smile always goes a long way as well.
- Wash your hands
Mom said it first and as usual Mom knows best. Though some people are taking advantage and buying up all the hand sanitizer in sight, good old soap and water actually work the best to rid yourself of germs. Proper handwashing techniques are outlined by the CDC here. Hand sanitizer is a good option if you are unable to wash your hands. Wash after touching surfaces in public or hand to hand contact and avoid touching your face (mouth, eyes, nose) with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Our offices have taken extra sanitary precautions during this time as outlined by the CDC. They urge the public to do the same at home. Clean frequently used surfaces daily. These include: keyboards, cellphones, tablets, remotes, light switches, toys, sink taps or faucets.
What cleaners kill COVID-19?
Some cleaners such as bleach work better than others. Here is a list of cleaning materials that the EPA suggests are effective against SARS (related to COVID-19) and how to use them.
What are some other ways I can prepare for being at home?
Stock up on essentials
This doesn’t mean running to the grocery and emptying the shelves, it just means consider buying one or two extra pantry items that you normally have on hand, such as cans of soup, beans or other non-perishable items. Grains such as pastas and rice will last for a while if you need them. This isn’t because you won’t be able to get food if everything shuts down but so that if you do become sick you aren’t tempted to go out.
Avoid panic buying. Essentials are the items you may need if you are quarantined or may need to stay home and take care of a sick family member. These may include:
- Prescriptions- Fill any prescription medication you are taking so you don’t run out.
- Pet food
- Sanitary Supplies
The CDC also put toilet paper on the list but we don’t think that needs to be said again. The CDC reiterated that having the supplies on hand is only so that if you suddenly develop symptoms you won’t leave your house to pick up necessities.
In the event that you need to care for a family member the CDC also recommends having these items on hand:
- Facial tissue
- Paper towels
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Household cleaning products
- Regular detergents for washing dishes and doing laundry
- Fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, including products for children if you are a parent or caregiver
- Plastic garbage bags for containing soiled tissues and other waste
- Household bleach for creating a solution of 1-part bleach to 9 parts water to disinfect surfaces
Many of you have these items already. If you have enough stock to last you through an illness then please leave items on the shelves for others who may not have any items. This is the time to be considerate of others and work together to avoid further spread of the virus. We can do our part by ensuring our neighbours have supplies as well so that if they do become ill, they will have what they need and not leave the house.
When should I self-isolate? Do I have to stay home?
According to Public Health there is a difference between advice to self-isolate and advice to self-monitor.
They recommend you should self-isolate if:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Local public health has identified you as a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- If you have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you may be asked to self-monitor.
Self monitor means:
Monitor yourself for symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing.
What should I do if I develop symptoms of COVID-19?
- Stay home
- Limit contact with others
- Contact local public health, and follow their instructions
A final note from our office
We understand that these are precarious times and that it can make people anxious. We urge our patients to seek high-quality information about COVID-19 from reliable sources. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial public health authorities.