Yesterday, Manitoba achieved some very distressing milestones: we surpassed 1,000 total cases of COVID-19, grieved our 13th related death, and recorded the highest number of active cases per capita in Canada.
We must learn to live with this virus, which means we need to be mindful about the level of risk we are placing ourselves and others in. Places with a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19 can be represented by the 3 C’s: Closed spaces with poor ventilation, Crowded places with may people nearby, and Close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations. However, the most important things we can do to minimize the spread of the virus are practicing fundamental health and hygiene behaviours. If you’ve slipped, become complacent, or relaxed your standards in terms of hygiene, #FocusOnTheFundamentals.
Re-commit to the following habits to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to yourself and others:
- Good hand hygiene provides significant protection from viral respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds then make sure to dry your hands thoroughly. You can also use an alcohol-based hand cleanser, with at least 60% alcohol content, especially after touching high-touch surfaces like elevator buttons, PIN pads, handrails, light switches, remote controls, doorknobs, etc.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as food or drinks.
- Practice proper cough/sneeze etiquette. Turn away from people and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve.
- Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) – sneaky viruses can enter through those cavities/passages.
- If you are sick, even if you only feel a little unwell, stay home. Do not leave your home to go to work, school, or other public places (e.g. stores, restaurants, churches, etc.), unless you require urgent medical care. Parents and caregivers must NOT send sick children to school, daycare, playdates or extra-curricular activities — even if a child is only displaying mild symptoms.
- While sick at home, do not have contact with anyone, even members of your own household. Because the virus passes through exposure to infected droplets, being in prolonged, close proximity to an infected person increases your risk of contracting the virus.
- Use the online self-assessment tool to see if you may be at risk of having COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested, and individuals experiencing symptoms do not require a referral from Health Links – Info Santé or their family physician to go to a community testing site. Click here to access the current list of Manitoba COVID-19 screening locations. Here are some testing tips:
- Testing should be done 24 hours after symptoms start. The timing of the sample collection is important because the amount of virus present in the nose and throat varies over the course of the infection.
- It is important not to wait too long to be tested, as tracing and isolating contacts in a timely manner is important to limiting the spread of COVID-19. Ensuring the test is not done too soon, or too late, also reduces the chances of false negatives (i.e., your test result coming back negative when you actually have COVID-19).
- You should still be tested even if your symptoms are very mild or if they start to improve after 24 hours.
- If you have concerns about your symptoms, or are unsure whether you should be tested, call Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or toll free at 1-888-315-9257).
- Even if you have mild symptoms of a respiratory illness you should self-isolate. Self-isolation means staying home and keeping away from others, including household members if possible. You should continue self-isolating for 14 days from the day symptoms started and until you no longer have a fever and the other symptoms are gone.
- Limit the number of people that you come in contact with at this time to continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19. When you are with others outside your household, gather in outdoor settings whenever possible, and maintain physical distancing except for brief exchanges.
- Wear a mask in indoor settings, particularly if physical distancing is not possible. For a list of mask do’s and don’ts, click here.
“To alleviate some of the stress that Manitobans may be feeling, we all know what we can do. Even if we haven’t been dedicated to practicing the fundamentals, we can all make changes today to start practicing the fundamentals. Stay home, even if you’re mildly ill. This is paramount, and this is a huge change, we realize that,” said Dr. Roussin. “Avoid crowded places, avoid indoor public spaces, or if you have to attend somewhere that you think you may not be able to physical distance, wear a non-medical mask. This is an additional measure to limit the transmission of this virus — it is not a replacement for the fundamentals.”