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COVID-19: Health and Safety Issues to be Aware of

Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

  • avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
  • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
  • limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
  • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others

Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
    • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
    • toys
    • toilets
    • phones
    • electronics
    • door handles
    • bedside tables
    • television remotes

If you are a healthy individual, the use of a mask is not recommended for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask when you are not ill may give a false sense of security. There is a potential risk of infection with improper mask use and disposal. They also need to be changed frequently.

However, your health care provider may recommend you wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 while you are seeking or waiting for care. In this instance, masks are an appropriate part of infection prevention and control measures. The mask acts as a barrier and helps stop the tiny droplets from spreading you when you cough or sneeze.

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How Coronavirus Spreads

Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.

Difference between quarantine (self-isolate) and isolate

There is a difference between advice to quarantine (self-isolate) and advice to isolate. It is important to note these measures are in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Quarantine (self-isolate)

Quarantine for 14 days if you have no symptoms and you:

  • are returning from travel outside of Canada
  • had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19
  • have been told by the public health authority that you may have been exposed and need to quarantine

Quarantine means that for 14 days you need to:

  • stay at home and monitor yourself for symptoms, even if mild
  • avoid contact with others to help prevent transmission of the virus at the earliest stage of illness
  • practise physical (social) distancing in your home and community

If you develop symptoms, even if mild, stay home and isolate yourself from others. Immediately call a health care professional or your public health authority.

Isolate

You must isolate for at least 14 days if you have:

  • been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting for laboratory test results for COVID-19
  • symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild
  • been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19
  • been advised to do so by your public health authority
  • returned from travel outside Canada and have symptoms of COVID-19 (mandatory)

Isolation means you must go directly home and stay home for:

  • a minimum of 14 days after the onset of your first symptoms of COVID-19 or
  • until your local public health authority says you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus

If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority and follow their instructions.