Across Canada, individuals have embraced the practice of “social distancing” in order to flatten the curve and reduce the potential of COVID-19 transmission.
But many people — those who live in family homes, with roommates, or otherwise — don’t have the ability to completely isolate themselves.
As per the Government of Canada, here’s how you can protect yourself if you live with someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus:
Limit your contact
If someone in your living quarters falls ill, online one healthy person should provide care for that individual. Personal items — toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils, electronic devices, and the like — should not be shared with the ill person.
Healthy individuals should use a separate bathroom from the ill person, if possible. If that can’t be done, the person who is ill should close the toilet lid before flushing.
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If at all possible, those who are at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus should not care for someone with COVID-19. This category includes elderly persons, those with chronic medical conditions (like heart disease or diabetes), or compromised immune systems.
Those who do need to be within two metres of the person who is ill with coronavirus should wear a mask, disposable gloves, and eye protection. Said gloves should be worn when touching the ill person, their environment, and soiled items or surfaces, and they should not be re-used — nor should the masks.
Hands should be cleaned often, for at least 20 seconds, and especially after contact with the person who is ill and after removing gloves, masks, and eye protection. Hands should be dried with disposable paper towels or a reusable towel that is replaced when it becomes wet.
Dirt can also be removed with a wet wipe, before using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Altogether, touching of the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands should be avoided.
Maintain a clean environment
Used masks, gloves, and other contaminated items should be placed in a lined container, where contents can be secured and disposed of with other household waste.
Any laundry that is possibly contaminated should be placed into a container with a plastic liner and should not be shaken. Items should be washed with regular laundry soap and hot water, and dried well.
Clothing and linens belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
Once a day, at least, household disinfectants or diluted bleach (one part bleach and nine parts water) should be used to clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones, and television remotes.
Touch screens should be cleaned with 70% alcohol wipes.
Monitor yourself for symptoms
If you have always used the recommended precautions, you should monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following your last contact with the ill person.
However, if you have had direct contact with body fluids of the ill person (eg, were coughed or sneezed on when you weren’t wearing a mask), you should contact your local public health authority for further instructions.
If you develop symptoms, it’s integral to isolate yourself as quickly as possible and contact your local public health authority for further instructions.
The following items are recommended by the Government of Canada:
- Surgical/procedure masks (do not re-use)
- Eye protection
- Disposable gloves (do not re-use)
- Disposable paper towels
- Waste container with plastic liner
- Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Running water
- Hand soap
- Alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- Dish soap
- Regular laundry soap
- Regular household cleaning products
- Bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and a separate container for dilution (one part bleach to nine parts water)
- Alcohol prep wipes