As a public service to the readers of the Campbell River Mirror, we have compiled some of the most relevant, factual, science-driven information available on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation factors into one place.
With many public spaces and businesses closing their doors to try and slow the spread of the virus, and many choosing to self-isolate to help that cause, here are a few things to keep in mind over the coming days and weeks.
The best way to avoid getting COVID-19
Wash your hands and stay away from other people.
Washing your hands with soap, for at least 20 seconds, as frequently as possible, is the best way to stave off the spread of COVID-19, as well as staying away from work, school, out of public spaces and away from groups of people.
“Now is the time to put some distance between us to keep our germs to ourselves,” says B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, reiterating crucial steps of prevention she has noted since mid-February.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The symptoms of the novel coronavirus are similar to a common cold or flu, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
That includes a fever and cough but most importantly difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. In severe cases, symptoms can include severe lung infections.
Health officials have warned that it can take up to 14 days, or two weeks, for symptoms to appear and can range from mild to severe. Seniors and those with underlying medical conditions are most at-risk of seeing adverse impacts if they contract the virus.
Out of precaution, health officials have made it clear: if you feel sick, stay home.
Not all sick people require COVID-19 tests
This past weekend, Henry came out with a statement surrounding who and why people should or shouldn’t get tested for the virus.
“Even if you have mild symptoms, or if you have no symptoms and you have returned from travel, you don’t need testing,” she told reporters during a Saturday news briefing. “We want to make sure that people with no symptoms understand they don’t need to be tested for COVID-19.”
She added that testing protocols will be focused on health care staff, those in long-term care homes and those linked to the existing outbreaks in North Vancouver. People who show serious symptoms, which include lung infections and extreme coughing, will also be tested after calling HealthLink BC at 811.
The province has tested more than 6,000 people, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, with 4,000 of those tests in the last few days. As people await their lab results, which can take two or more days, they are told to self-isolate. Those who travel outside of Canada, including to the U.S., will be asked to stay away from work, school and other public places for 14 days upon their return.
How the virus spreads
Coronavirus is transmitted through larger liquid droplets – such as when a person coughs or sneezes. That means the virus can enter a second person’s system through their eyes, nose or throat if in close contact.
While the virus is not known to be airborne, or transmitted through the particles floating in the air, and it is not something that comes in through the skin, it can be spread by touch if a person has used their hands to cover their mouth or nose when they cough.
Health officials recommend to always cough or sneeze into the arm and wash your hands regularly. People should also avoid handshaking and hugs.
A good rule of thumb: Stay at least six feet away from another person.
What to do if you think you have COVID-19
Anyone who thinks they may have the virus is being urged not to panic, and most importantly to stay home.
Anyone in B.C. who develops symptoms should first call HealthLink BC, by dialing 811, to talk to a health care worker and determine the most appropriate next steps.
The nurses at HealthLink BC will complete an exposure risk assessment of callers with compatible symptoms, such as cough or influenza-like symptoms. In some cases, nurses may suggest a caller go see a health care provider for assessment and testing, either at an urgent primary care centre or walk-in clinic.
It is highly recommend that anyone who may have COVID-19 call ahead to tell the clinicians that they are coming.
COVID-19 testing is done through a nasopharyngeal swab or throat swab.
Anyone who is tested may be told to self-isolate until the tests can be analyzed in a laboratory. Test results can be found by calling the B.C. Centre for Disease Control coronavirus hotline at 1-833-707-2792.
What happens if you actually have COVID-19?
Anyone with COVID-19 is being placed in quarantine, at their home or in the hospital, for at least 14 days. In order to be released from quarantine, an infected person must have two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
The BC CDC suggests that if you are sharing your home to stay and sleep in a room with good airflow that is away from others. Other precautions include using a separate bathroom, if you can, avoid sharing household items, flush the toilet with the lid down, and clean and disinfect common areas once a day.
At this time, there is no vaccine for this particular coronavirus, and health officials say it could take many years to create.
There is no specific treatment, but many of the symptoms can be managed with home treatment such as drinking plenty of fluids, rest and using a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat, according to HealthLink BC.
Most people recover from coronaviruses on their own, however for people with more serious illness, supportive care in or out of hospital may be needed.
Cancer patients surged to keep appointments
While cancer patients may have extra reason to be extra cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to BC Cancer, the organization says it’s important that they not change their cancer care.
“It’s important to ensure your cancer care continues as scheduled, so please continue to go to your clinic appointments,” the organization says, adding that it’s not important to stockpile cancer medications, as BC Cancer Agency will work with patients to ensure they have their medications.
“Our advice for cancer patients is the same as for any other person,” the organization says. “If you are healthy, wearing a mask is not recommended. The most important way to protect yourself is by washing your hands properly and avoid touching your face. Masks should only be used if you are sick to prevent transmission to others.”