How Canadians can prepare for a coronavirus outbreak
So far the number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada are relatively low and so are the rates of transmission. But that doesn’t mean that Canadians shouldn’t prepare in case things take a turn for the worse given what we are observing around the globe. So, let’s talk about how Canadians can prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
Right now, the World Health Organization is recommending that Canadians continue to engage in typical flu season protocols including;
- washing your hands regularly with soap and water;
- covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing;
- avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing;
- avoiding individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults;
- staying home if you are sick; and
- avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
But what else can you do to prepare?
The Canadian government has recently updated that Canadians should engage in social distancing. This means staying home whenever possible and keeping a safe distance from people when you are required to go out. The goal of social distancing is to decrease the rate of transmission and flatten the curve.
We know that social isolation is challenging for many individuals, as humans are social beings so we’ve written an article specifically about How to Cope with Social Isolation.
How to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak
We should all be thinking about whether or not we have enough supplies in our homes in case we need to be isolated for some extended period of time. That does not just mean having enough food, it also means ensuring that you have other things like important medications. If you require regular medications, can you talk to your doctor about stocking up with a few extra weeks or plan to have the pharmacy or a friend drop them off? Also, consider the supplies you may need if someone in your household does get sick. This would include things such as over-the-counter pain relievers, and disinfectants to clean household surfaces.
Studies suggest that coronaviruses can live on surfaces for up to 9 days. Clean regularly with a disinfectant to kill the virus. So, make it part of our routine to regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces like door handles – and don’t forget devices like your smartphone.
Remember that coronavirus is a virus, so antibiotics are not an effective treatment.
It’s also important to stay informed about the cases in your area and if any protocols are changing, but do not spend excessive time attending to updates if it significantly increases your anxiety. Scheduling a pre-determined but restricted time to check daily can be helpful (e.g., checking at a set time every morning, and limiting review of social media to 15 minutes, for example).
Check out our article What is Coronavirus and What are the Risks to Canadians.
What not to do when it comes to coronavirus
There are also some things Canadians should consider not doing, not only to keep themselves safe but to keep others safe as well.
UPDATE (on masks):
Don’t wear N95 masks unless you have symptoms or have been advised to by a medical professional, as we need to maintain a supply of masks for individuals who require them as well as health care professionals who are more likely to be exposed. The recommendations, however, are to wear a face-covering (non-N95 mask, scarf, or other face covering).
Don’t wear masks unless you have symptoms or have been advised to by a medical professional. There are many reasons why wearing a mask when you’re not sick has the potential to make things worse; (1) we need to maintain a supply of masks for individuals who require them as well as health care professionals who are more likely to be exposed, (2) an increased number of people wearing masks in public increases the panic among the general population because it makes it appear as though more people are sick than there are, and (3) wearing a mask may lead you to touch your face more than you may otherwise, which can increase transmission.
So, do what you can to be prepared in case coronavirus starts to spread more rapidly in Canada or in case you get sick and need to stay home for the recommended 14 days. Remember to keep things in perspective and focus on things within your domain of control. Currently, in Canada, the transmission rate is low and so are the number of cases. Don’t let preparation turn into panic.
If you’re worried about coronavirus and are struggling to manage your anxiety check out our other articles.
As the number of cases of coronavirus increases – so does people’s anxiety. It’s normal to feel anxious but it’s important to manage our anxiety levels.
It’s important for all Canadians to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak in their area. We need to prepare for the worst to do our part to reduce transmission.
Preparation for a coronavirus outbreak does not only mean preparing for our own personal safety but also for the safety of our clients. Here are some things for psychologists and counsellors to consider when it comes to coronavirus and clinical service delivery.