It seems as though almost overnight the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has changed the world. Spread containment efforts have led to restrictions in travel, public events and social gatherings of all kinds.
It has created closures of restaurants, schools, sports events and theatre productions and, as the spread extends, restrictions deepen and become more defined and entrenched. But there is good to be seen in every difficult situation and, although this virus knows no boundaries or borders, it has most certainly brought the world together in a unified approach to meeting this challenge head-on.
At the core of the issue is public safety. While we may be inconvenienced by changes to routine and everything we rely on in our daily lives, the steps we take now will ultimately define the extent of the spread and the impact to the health of people in Canada and around the world. With this in mind, the Canada Safety Council fully supports the direction being provided by federal government and public health officials as well as the measures being taken by Canadian industries, organizations and individuals in preventing the spread of the virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization
The CSC has also taken steps to limit spread in restricting access to the office, in relying on virtual meetings and in enabling remote work arrangements that ensure continuation of services from the contained environment of home.
“At times like these, there’s a real need – an imperative – to prioritize the health and safety of the communities we work and live in and more specifically each other,” said Gareth Jones, president and CEO of the Canada Safety Council.
“Coronavirus is highly communicable and has demonstrated its lethal potential particularly to the elderly and people with comorbidities and compromised immune systems around the world. And in the absence of a vaccine to immunize the population perhaps we should behave as though everyone around us has the virus.
“Even those in good health who are seemingly unaffected should be mindful of habits so we don’t port the virus and infect others.”
Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to be diligent and proactive in curbing spread. Regular washing with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub will kill viruses that you may have picked up through contacting a public surface. Social distancing is also an effective mitigating practice – by maintaining a minimum of one metre between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, you lessen the likelihood of breathing in the virus.
Respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, can be transmitted by touch. This makes it important, too, to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. These are all potential points of entry for the virus.
If you’re experiencing fever, coughing or difficulty breathing, don’t take any unnecessary risks. Work from home if you’re able, and call your local public health authority. Many provinces have set up an 811 information line, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon.
Virtual care may be a good first step in assessing your symptoms before taking action.
Do not visit the emergency department at the hospital unless you are experiencing severe shortness of breath. You risk putting other patients at risk of contracting the virus. You should also phone ahead if you intend on speaking with your doctor – do not show up unannounced and unexpected.
Self-isolation is also an effective way to limit the spread of the virus. This should include staying home, limiting the number of visitors and, if possible, containing yourself to a separate room from any housemates.
Prevention is most effective when it’s proactive. Don’t wait until you start exhibiting symptoms to take precautions. Wash your hands, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, maintain social distancing and remember to look out for each other as we continue global efforts to contain this virus.