Coronavirus is currently cancelling everything. And while social distancing is the suggested best practice for anyone who isn't ill and hasn't come into contact with someone who is, self-isolation is the move to make if either of those things are true.
But what exactly is self-isolation and how do you undertake it properly?
Thankfully, the Canadian government has outlined the best way to spend the next 14 days should you find yourself in a situation that calls for self-isolation.
WHO SHOULD ENTER SELF-ISOLATION?
Any Canadian who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing), or who are at a high risk of being exposed (close contact with an infected person) are being asked by the PHAC to self-isolate, or voluntarily quarantine themselves at home for a period of two weeks.
Self-isolation for such a prolonged period of time can be difficult, and requires much discipline to be effective. Isolation of this sort means that unless in the case of an emergency, the person is restricted to home – no quick trips to the liquor store, no unnecessary doctor’s appointments, certainly no use of public transit.
If you find yourself in this circumstance, arrange to have groceries and cleaning supplies delivered to your home. Some of the important items to have on hand in abundance are soaps, basic medicines, prescription medicines, household cleaners such as bleach, paper towels, toilet paper and garbage bags.
Assign a room in the home, if possible, to isolate yourself and be sure to clean down the surfaces in the room regularly. If it is possible to avoid sharing a bathroom when in isolation, do so. If not, make sure you are not sharing personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, washcloths, bed linen, cigarettes, unwashed eating utensils, drinks, phones, computers, or other electronic devices.
If contact is unavoidable with others, try to stay at least two metres away, and wear a mask if possible.
Self-isolation is only effective when proper hygiene practices are followed. Vigorous and frequent hand washing, for at least twenty seconds with soap is a given. But those in isolation should also ensure that soiled tissues are immediately disposed of and not touched by other members of the family. Soiled laundry should be handled with gloved hands, and wastebaskets should be lined with bags and disposed of frequently.
According to the PHAC, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 at this time. If you're suffering from a confirmed case, the best thing to do is eat nutritious food, stay hydrated with fluids like water, and manage your symptoms. Over the counter medication can be used to reduce fever and aches.
Common sense measures like social distancing and self-isolation may seem premature, but it is just that type of forethought that may help to contain this pandemic and keep Canadians safe.