On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, a pandemic. This has led to strict social distancing measures being adopted around the globe.
In Canada, if you have recently travelled overseas or have been in contact with a known case of coronavirus, you may have unknowingly contracted the disease. Here’s what you can do to help protect yourself and others.
Who should I contact?
If you think you may have coronavirus or may have come into contact with someone who does, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises you to self-isolate at home for 14 days and contact your doctor for further instructions.
If you’re unable to reach your doctor or don’t have a family physician, contact the public health authority in your province or territory to find out what your next step should be. (See the links below for more details.)
If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
COVID-19: Symptoms and contagiousness
Symptoms of coronavirus include a fever, coughing, shortness of breath and pneumonia in both lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the condition is believed to spread primarily through respiratory droplets getting passed from infected to non-infected people through talking, sneezing and coughing.
Coronvirus can spread easily. Since the virus was identified as a global threat, over 116,000 cases have been confirmed in Canada, and around 18 million cases have been confirmed worldwide. It’s difficult to gather accurate statistics on COVID-19, and much about the virus remains unknown. According to a New York Times report, it appears to be more contagious than the average flu, rising instead to levels comparable to major flu pandemics throughout history.
To decrease congestion at medical facilities and assist medical staff, the government has created a self-assessment test that you can take on your own to determine if you need further testing for coronavirus. You can take this test on the web or via mobile app (available on Google Play and the App Store). The mobile app also lets you get the latest coronavirus updates and resources from trusted authorities.
On July 31, 2020, the federal government released the COVID Alert app (for Android and iOS) to help track and prevent the spread of coronavirus. This non-mandatory app lets users report if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and anonymously notifies people nearby that they may have been exposed.
Currently, only residents of Ontario can use the app to report their test results, but soon this functionality will be extended across Canada (the exact date has not yet been announced).
Where can I get more information?
The World Health Organization has reliable global information about the spread of COVID-19. You can check their situation dashboard to get the latest numbers on infections and mortality rates per country.
You can also visit the following government websites to get updates as they’re release.
There are plenty of news sources providing live updates on the situation, but it’s always best to check government or professional medical communications to ensure you have the most informed and current information.
How do I protect myself and others from the coronavirus?
To help slow down the rapid spread of coronavirus, public health authorities are urging the public to adopt a number of good practices including the following:
Wash your hands frequently. Use alcohol-based sanitizers to keep the areas around you clean.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Sneeze into your elbow and cover your nose completely when using a tissue; dispose of used tissues right away.
Talk to health professionals right away if you feel symptoms. The earlier you can identify coronavirus, the sooner you can be isolated and reduce the risk of affecting other people.
Don’t overstock on items. Buy what you need, so others (including medical professionals) can get what they need too.
Engage in social distancing to avoid spreading the virus. Keep a distance of at least 1-2 metres between yourself and other people. This means limiting the amount of time you spend in public places and staying at home as much as possible.
How the Canadian government and big businesses are responding to medical needs
Thankfully, the federal government and large companies across Canada have stepped up to the plate to address some of the nation’s most pressing medical needs.
In response to a shortage of protective face masks, the government ordered millions of N95 masks from abroad to be distributed across the country. Unfortunately, 1 million masks ended up failing Canadian filtration standards. There was speculation that the masks could be donated to non-health care workers who don’t have to follow the strictest face covering standards.
Difficulty in obtaining quality supplies from overseas hasn’t been the only problem the government has had to face. High competition from other countries in the world looking for the same supplies and heavy traffic in countries selling supplies has forced political leaders to look for domestic solutions to the shortage.
Towards the end of April, the government released a shipment of 6 million surgical masks and more than 100,000 face shields to the provinces and territories.
Private companies across Canada have been shouldering some of the burden as well. BCE Inc. (formerly Bell Canada Enterprises) found it could get 1.5 million N95 and K95 face masks from its suppliers and is donating these to healthcare workers and others on the frontline of battling coronavirus. Calgary-based Fluid Energy has agreed to produce over 1 million litres of hand sanitizer per month. Rocky Mountain Soap Factory was approved by Health Canada to produce a hand sanitizer made with natural ingredients.
On April 23, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $1.1 billion investment into a national medical research strategy to address COVID-19. The plan addresses 3 main points: (1) researching vaccines and treatments, (2) supporting clinical trials and (3) expanding national testing and modelling. Another part of the investment involves creating a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which brings together some of Canada’s best medical minds to work collaboratively on serology testing (blood testing) to track and understand COVID-19 immunity.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to provide assistance where needed, particularly in specific long-term care facilities where there is an especially high rate of COVID-19 cases and a shortage of personal care workers.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your finances – you’re not alone. You can save plenty of cash by doing some simple admin with your bills and expenses. Switching credit cards or downgrading your mobile phone plan can potentially save you some money.
Stacie Hurst is an editor at Finder, specializing in loans, banking products and money transfers. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Writing, and she completed one year of law school in the United States before deciding to pursue a career in the publishing industry. When not working, she can usually be found messing around with games, photography or floral arrangements in memory of her former days as a flower shop assistant.
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