As the pandemic spreads, the rules for social distancing are changing.
Less than a week ago, public health authorities throughout North America were calling for cancellation of events with more than 250 people. Things change quickly and now even small gatherings are being called off.
Loneliness is itself a serious health issue. With social distancing and other measures, it’s going to get worse.
It’s especially a problem for seniors living on their own. Loneliness contributes to mental anxiety, but it also affects your physical health. Some research suggests loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking and is more predictive of mortality than obesity.
Volunteering, if you are able, is a great way to stay connected with others, and volunteers are going to be needed. Those who are housebound and lonely are encouraged to swallow their pride and reach out to others for comfort and contact.
These dos and don’ts on social distancing come from Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer with the Public Health Agency of Canada:
Stay home as much as possible.
Get fresh air, go for a jog or walk your dog but always keep two metres (six feet or about two arms-lengths) distance from other people.
Go to the grocery store or pharmacy as needed but keep the two-metre distance and wash your hands upon your return home. Shopping online and arranging to have things dropped off at your home is even better.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food. The extra scrubbing time matters. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Dispose of any tissues as soon as possible in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands afterwards.
Clean high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). This includes things like doorknobs, toys, toilets, phones, electronics, remote controls and bedside tables.
Use technology to keep in touch with people at higher risk like the elderly or those in poor health. Avoid personal contact.
Avoid non-essential gatherings. That means no visits with your neighbours or friends, no play dates, no sleepovers, no parties and especially no public gatherings in crowded spaces, like conferences, concerts or sporting events (if there are any on).
Avoid public transportation or, if you must use it, travel at uncrowded hours.
Don’t shake hands or kiss cheeks in greeting.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
The current pandemic will for many people cause anxiety, depression and other reactions. It’s as important to maintain mental health as physical health.
This article, Covid-19 and Anxiety, from Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division, provides important information about preserving your mental and physical health. The article was posted by HereToHelp which has other information on mental health and substance abuse.
Reported signs and symptoms include: fever, new cough, and difficulty breathing. If you think you have the symptoms of COVID-19, please stay at home and call 8-1-1, or your family doctor/nurse practitioner. People without symptoms, or those with mild symptoms who can be managed at home, should not be tested. The exception is health-care workers with COVID-19 infection who have recovered and require a negative test prior to returning to work.
Testing will occur by appointment for people who have been referred by their primary care provider or an 8-1-1 nurse.
Sage Hill Law in Oliver has set up a buddy system for Oliver and area (including Osoyoos).
People register either to be a helper or be helped. The helper checks in regularly while practicing social distancing. If needed, the helper may do things like pick up groceries — delivering them in a safe manner.
For more information and to register as either a helper or someone helped, visit their website.
Groups in the community are organizing to help make life easier for those who need assistance. This news category will provide information on new announcements.
Information is often first posted on Osoyoos Loop, so check there.
Keeping in mind all the health advice on preventing spread of the virus, here are some of the services that are likely to be in demand:
Delivery of groceries, medicines etc. to those who are in self-quarantine or otherwise can’t get out
Drivers to assist people getting to medical and other appointments — keeping in mind the need for personal protection
Book exchange — the libraries are closed, but reading will be an important activity for those who are housebound. Again, keep in mind that there’s a low, but real, risk that books may carry infections for short periods of time (the virus can stay active on cardboard for up to 24 hours)
Friendship — many people who are isolated will be lonely. With telephones and Skype or FaceTime, it is possible to simulate social contact. Sometimes texting and Facebook aren’t enough!
Childcare – with schools closed probably for a longer time than many people expect, there will be a need for childcare to help working parents. It will be challenging to find ways this can be done safely. Although children are the demographic least as risk from the virus, they can spread the virus to those who are more vulnerable. Watch for direction from local and provincial authorities.