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What is Self-Isolation?

COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing in Canada, and the country’s top doctor is calling on all residents to act quickly to stem the virus’ spread. Canada is reporting 313 coronavirus cases, and the virus is now present in all 10 provinces.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means avoiding situations where you could infect other people. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school/university, child care, athletic events, faith-based gatherings, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and any public gatherings. You should, (where possible) not use public transportation including buses, taxis, or ride sharing. As much as possible, you should limit your contact with people and avoid having visitors to your home, but it is okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or other things you may need. You can also use delivery or pick up services for errands such as grocery shopping. If you need to leave your home for an urgent errand, such as picking up essential medication, as a precaution to further reduce risk of spread, you can wear a surgical mask while you are out.

I keep hearing about "flattening the curve"...?

The “flatten the curve” concept is simple: if everyone gets sick at the same time, hospitals will be overwhelmed and people will die without treatment. However, if everyone does what they can to avoid spreading the virus and “flatten” the infection numbers on any given day, hospitals will have a better chance of giving all patients the help they need over a longer period of time.

Why am I being asked to self-isolate?
Self-isolation can help prevent the spread of infections, such as novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). When you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick. This is known as the incubation period (usually 2 to 10 days for 2019-nCoV, and up to a maximum of 14 days). There is a very small chance that you can spread the germs during this time (the few days before a feeling of sickness starts). More importantly, staying home means that if you do start to feel sick, you won’t run the risk of this happening while you are in a public place. Self-isolation is a cautious action used to lower the chance that the virus could spread to others. It is important to remember that not everyone who is exposed will get sick, and anyone who feels well for the full 14 days after an exposure of concern is not considered to be infectious.



Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19

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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Date published: March 2020

Isolation means staying at home when you are sick with COVID-19 and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease to others in your home and your community.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is expected that you take the following measures.

Limit contact with others

  • Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.

  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).

  • Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.

  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.

  • If you have to be in contact with others, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. Keep interactions brief and wear a mask.

  • Avoid contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults.  

  • Avoid contact with pets if you live with other people that may also be touching the pet.

Keep your hands clean

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.

  • You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm or into a tissue.

Avoid contaminating common items and surfaces

  • At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.

  • Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.

  • Use regular household disinfectants or diluted bleach (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) to disinfect.

  • Place contaminated items that cannot be cleaned in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.

  • Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.

Care for yourself

  • Monitor your symptoms as directed by your health care provider or public health authority.

  • If your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority and follow their instructions.

  • Get some rest, eat a balanced diet and stay in touch with others through communication devices.

Supplies to have at home when isolating

  • Surgical/procedure masks (do not re-use)

  • Eye protection

  • Disposable gloves (do not re-use)

  • Disposable paper towels

  • Tissues

  • Waste container with plastic liner

  • Thermometer

  • 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 (1 part bleach to 9 parts water)

  • Alcohol prep wipes

  • Arrange to have your groceries delivered to you


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