What We Can Do to Stay Safe and Healthy as COVID-19 Lockdown EasesPosted on: May 21, 2020
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As Ontario and other provinces begin easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, we’re adapting our lives to deal with the new changes the pandemic is having on our homes, schools, and work-places. We have to accept life with the coronavirus, even though it will be pretty tough to balance normal daily life with quarantine efforts.
Let’s be guided by advice from The World Health Organization: “We should be ready to change our behaviors for the foreseeable future,” they say.
Here are some ways to stay safe and healthy and protect yourself as well as everyone around you when you start to go out in public and resume life amidst COVID-19.
Wear a face mask in public places
Public Health Ontario now recommends that everyone wear a non-medical mask in public to prevent transmission by people who are unknowingly infected with the virus. It’s an additional measure you can take to help cut down the spread of the virus particularly when you are in situations where you can’t always maintain proper physical distance from others.
Dr. Jessica Hopkins, medical director of health protection at Public Health Ontario she said, “When you are wearing a mask, it’s about protecting others.” The aim is to prevent transmission by people who are unknowingly infected with the virus.
Do not use medical or surgical masks because these should be reserved for health-care professionals. Popular options include, dust masks, which can be purchased from a local hardware store, reusable/washable, double-layered cloth masks with an insert for a disposable filter, or a simple scarf or bandana to cover the mouth and nose.
You should make sure that:
- The mask covers your mouth and nose, and
- Even while wearing a mask, you must continue to keep 6 feet between you and others.
Keep your distance
The CDC describes social distancing, also called physical distancing, as “keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.” It includes:
- Staying at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) away from other people
- Not gathering in groups
- Staying out of crowded places and avoiding mass gatherings
As we begin going out in public again, make it a habit to keep six feet away from people while waiting in line at the grocery store or pharmacy, when going to a restaurant or cafe or other public places, make sure to check first if there are a number of other people who might be there and if you’d be able to ensure enough space and stay six feet away from others. If you absolutely have to go near other people, make sure to wear a mask.
Continue to work from home if possible
A work-from-home arrangement could be the new normal for many businesses, even after the COVID-19 lockdown as employers will continue to have their employees working from home. If you can limit the days you have to physically go to work, this would help lessen your exposure to the virus.
If you are travelling to your workplace you will still need to observe the social distancing guidelines and stay six feet apart from other people. In the workplace, make sure you help your place of work implement six feet social distancing as you and co-workers move around the office.
It’s important to remember that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact for a prolonged period, and people can spread the virus even before they know they are sick, so if you keep your distance from everyone you can avoid being exposed to the coronavirus and help slow its spread among those who come in close contact with you.
Replace hugs and handshakes with alternatives
Canadians are urged to limit close contact with each other. This includes no-handshake, no-hugging or making any close physical contact that can infect a person if they come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth of another person.
As we start going out in public and meeting people again, let’s try to be less touchy and stop traditional greetings that involve any physical contact like hugging, high-fiving, cheek-kissing and handshaking, if possible.
Try these simple gestures that require zero physical contact:
Attribute to: Source https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/16-03-2020/the-world-is-on-fire-my-message-to-new-zealanders-on-covid-19 Authors: Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris
Don’t touch surfaces
An extra measure to stay safe and protected when going out in public is to stop touching shared surfaces.
Try these alternative methods:
- Use your knees, feet, elbows and knuckles instead of your fingertips to press the ‘Walk’ sign buttons in pedestrian lanes.
- Push open a door with your shoulder, hip or foot instead of your hands.
- Wear gloves if you have to tap out a PIN code or make a selection on a digital screen.
- Wrap a scarf or the sleeve of your sweater or jacket around the handle of any doors you have to pull open
- Flip on a light switch or sink faucet using your elbow or wrist.
- Use gloves or a plastic bag to sort produce and canned items in the grocery store.
The key is to avoid exposing your skin to any shared surfaces where the virus may be lingering. If you use gloves or a piece of clothing, it will be so much easier to toss your clothing into the wash rather than run the risk of using your bare hands and then touching your face. If you have to touch, make sure to use a hand sanitizer or hand wipes or, better yet, make sure to wash your hands right away so you don’t spread the virus elsewhere.
Don’t stop washing your hands
Hopefully, your hand-washing habits are deeply established by now and it will stick around even as COVID-19 lockdown eases. Remember that the goal of thorough hand washing is to minimize your risk of acquiring life-threatening symptoms, so continue to practice common hygiene, perhaps even more frequently now as you come into contact with people and common surfaces when quarantine ends. If you can’t wash with water and hand soap, use a hand sanitizer or hand wipes to break down the virus.
Don’t get too comfortable
It’s important to remember first and foremost that the war against the coronavirus is not yet over. The virus is still there, and the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 won’t go away until we achieve herd immunity or have access to a vaccine.
Already some countries across the world who have started lifting coronavirus lockdown are reporting new infection peaks. If we’re not careful, Canada could see a second wave of infections that could be even worse.
Our health and government officials are adamant in reminding us that even though some lockdown restrictions may loosen, physical distancing rules and guidelines still apply. This means that we still need to protect ourselves and others and do our part in limiting the spread of the virus as we all slowly work on trying to make a new life while facing the persistent threat of the virus around us.
As COVID-19 lockdown eases and many of us are still fearful of going back out — let’s truly take care of one another and let’s all do our best to continue to stop the spread. These simple ways will help to protect you and everyone around you and keep you safe from the virus.
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