COVID-19 Update: March 16
We have a great deal of information to share with you this morning.
- The City of Calgary has declared a state of local emergency due to COVID-19. All city-owned and operated fitness facilities and pools are now closed. For more information, please go to the City of Calgary’s website: https://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/cema/Pages/Response-to-Coronavirus.aspx
- Alberta Health Services has launched an online COVID-19 Screening tool. This will assist with the influx of calls that Health Link 811 is receiving.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough and other cold or influenza-like symptoms. The online screening tool will determine whether you need to call 811 to get tested.
- If you are awaiting COVID-19 test results, please do not call Health Link. You will be called directly. It can take up to four days to receive results.
- You do not need to be tested for COVID-19 if in the past 14 days you have not travelled outside Canada or have not had contact with someone diagnosed as having COVID-19.
- The Online Screening Tool can be found here: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
- There is a great deal of information and resources on the Alberta Health Services website. Information includes how to prevent and prepare, self-isolation guidelines, COVID-19 information, etc. We highly encourage you to visit the website for up-to-date accurate information. https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-2
- Information on flights with confirmed cases of COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-19-flight-information.pdf
- The White Hatter program has been suspended out of an abundance of caution.
- There will be a federal press conference today which will provide aviation updates. We will send another update once we have those details.
Information for Travellers
Returned before March 12
- Travellers returning from Italy, Iran, China’s Hubei province and the Grand Princess cruise ship should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms
- Travellers returning from other countries outside Canada should monitor for symptoms for 14 days
Returning after March 12
- All travellers returning from outside Canada should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. There is signage in the Airport to reflect this.
- If you develop symptoms – cough, fever or difficulty breathing – stay home and complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Do not go to the ER or doctor's office.
- Travel outside of Canada is not recommended for Albertans at this time.
COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person spread by:
- Larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze
- Touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Not airborne and cannot spread through the air over long distances or times, like the measles
- Studies suggest that the virus generally only survives for a few hours on a surface, though it may be possible for it to survive several days under ideal conditions.
From the Public Health Agency of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html
How to protect yourself
Refers to handwashing with soap and water or hand sanitizing with alcoholic solutions, gels or tissues to maintain clean hands and fingernails. It should be performed frequently with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds:
- Before and after preparing food;
- Before and after eating;
- After using the toilet;
- After coughing/sneezing into a tissue (or if non-compliant with respiratory etiquette);
- Before and after using a surgical/procedure mask and after removing gloves;
- After handling body fluid-contaminated waste or laundry;
- Whenever hands look dirty.
If soap and water are not available, hands can be cleaned with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) that contains at least 60% alcohol, ensuring that all surfaces of the hands are covered (e.g. front and back of hands as well as between fingers) and rubbed together until they feel dry. For visibly soiled hands, soiling should be removed with an alcohol-based hand wipe first, followed by the use of ABHS.
Touching one's eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands should be avoided.
Describes a combination of measures intended to minimize the dispersion of large-particle respiratory droplets when an ill person is coughing, sneezing and talking to reduce virus transmission.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a surgical/procedure mask or tissue. Dispose of tissues in a lined waste container and perform hand hygiene immediately after a cough or sneeze
- Cough/sneeze into the bend of your arm, not your hand
Social distancing measures are approaches taken to minimize close contact with others in the community and include: quarantine and self-isolation at the individual level as well as other community-based approaches (e.g. avoiding crowding, school measures and closures, workplace measures and closures, public/mass gathering cancellations).
Social distancing measures are likely to have secondary consequences for individuals, families and communities, such as loss of income, an elevated need for support services, and potentially reduced availability of certain services. Some measures require extensive preparation and engagement across sectors. During a pandemic of lesser severity, the infection control benefits of implementing some community measures (e.g., proactive school closures) may not be offset by the cost and societal disruption caused by these measures.
Whenever public health authorities impose restrictions on individual freedoms, the intervention should be proportional to the magnitude of the threat. This principle of 'least restrictive means' should always be a consideration when enacting social distancing measures.
It is crucial that individuals follow quarantine and self-isolation recommendations properly to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to others in the home setting or in the community. It is recommended that all individuals in the community plan ahead by maintaining a supply of essential medications, home supplies and extra non-perishable food in the event they require voluntary quarantine or self-isolation.
- Isolation is recommended for a symptomatic individual that is suspected of having, or known to have, COVID-19. They are directed by PHA to isolate themselves in the home-setting and avoid contact with others until PHA has advised that they are no longer considered contagious. Isolation includes:
- Not going out of the home setting. This includes school, work, or other public areas
- Not using public transportation (e.g. buses, subways, taxis)
- Identifying a "buddy" to check on and do errands for each another, especially for those who live alone or at high risk for developing complications.
- Having supplies delivered home instead of running errands (supplies should be left on the front door or at least a two-metre distance maintained between people)
- If leaving the home setting cannot be avoided (e.g. to go to a medical appointment), wear a mask (if not available, cover mouth and nose with tissues) and maintain a two-metre distance from others. The health care facility should be informed in advance that the person may be infectious.
- Voluntary home quarantine ("self-isolation") is recommended for an asymptomatic person when they have a high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19, (i.e., through close contact with a symptomatic person or their body fluids). They are asked to self- isolate in the home-setting to avoid contact with others in order to prevent transmission of the virus at the earliest stage of illness (i.e., should they develop COVID-19).
- Protective self-separation is recommended for a person who is at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g., older adults, those with chronic underlying medical conditions or immunocompromised) when the virus is circulating in their community.
- Voluntary avoidance of crowded places is recommended for a person who is asymptomatic and who is considered to have had a medium risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. This involves avoiding crowded public spaces and places where rapid self-isolation upon onset of symptoms may not be feasible. Examples of these settings include mass gatherings, such as concerts and sporting events; not including hospitals (for HCWs) and schools.
- Mandatory quarantine is the imposed separation or restriction of movement of individuals, groups or communities, for a defined period of time and in a location determined by the PHA. As local circumstances will vary across Canada and within regions, quarantine may be used to contain, delay or mitigate COVID-19, although its effectiveness once there is widespread community transmission is unknown. An individual in mandatory quarantine is asymptomatic but may have been exposed to the virus causing COVID-19. A decision to implement mandatory quarantine requires careful consideration of the safety of the individual/group/community, the anticipated effectiveness, feasibility and implications.
Self-monitoring is implemented when individuals are potentially exposed to the virus and include monitoring for the occurrence of symptoms compatible with COVID-19. If symptoms develop, the individual should follow the recommended public health actions regarding convalescing at home versus seeking medical care, depending on the severity of symptoms and the presence of underlying medical conditions.
Use of Masks
Masks should be used by a symptomatic individual, if available, to provide a physical barrier that may help to prevent the transmission of the virus by blocking the dispersion of large-particle respiratory droplets propelled by coughing, sneezing and talking. A face mask should always be combined with other measures such as respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. They can be worn by people suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19 when in close contact with other people in the home-setting or if they must leave the home-setting for medical attention.
The use of a mask by a healthy person who is providing direct care for a person with COVID-19 should always be combined with eye protection and gloves and other droplet/contact prevention measures including hand hygiene and environmental cleaning.
There is no evidence on the usefulness of face masks worn by healthy/asymptomatic persons as a mitigation measure, therefore it is not recommended. Globally masks are in short supply and the current demand for masks cannot be met; therefore, appropriate use of face masks should be encouraged.
We realize that this is a serious situation but we all have an important role to play in controlling this Pandemic and flattening the curve. Yes, this pandemic can be controlled. Now, more than ever it is important to reach out to your family and friends and provide support as you are able.
We will continue to keep you updated.