We can all help stop the spread of COVID-19

A pamphlet with information about COVID-19 that was dropped off at residential homes this week. Photo credit: Tracey Bowers-Lee

Health experts keep repeating themselves about the steps people need to take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But they bear repeating – again and again and again.

“We need to wash, wash, wash our hands with soap. It kills the virus,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health at a news conference this week.

“Cough and sneeze into your sleeves and not your hands,” said de Villa. “The virus enters through the nose and mouth, so it is very important to avoid touching your face.”

People should use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not readily available, she said.

“The virus is highly susceptible to soap and water. It destroys the virus, so you don’t need anything else,” said de Villa.

Avoid close contact with people.

She said older people, those with chronic conditions or weakened immunity and pregnant women should avoid going out or at the very least practise social distancing, two metres apart at all times.

Non-essential travel outside Canada is cancelled and if you have been out of the country you are ordered to self-isolate for 15 days. If you do not comply and are reported to the city there will be penalties, she said.

“Don’t go out in groups, don’t gather in groups, stay home,” said de Villa. “I can’t stress this any more.”

De Villa says to wash metallic surfaces with disinfectant because the virus can stay on them for up to nine days and on plastic and other material for up to three days. Be cautious when outside. Don’t touch handrails and doorknobs and wipe them down at home.

De Villa advised to take a shower or bath and dispose of used clothes when getting home from outside. Avoid sitting down or touching anything, go straight to the shower.

This and other preventative measures have been echoed by experts and are in new federal government ads over all platforms and pamphlets. Daily vigilant news conferences by the prime minister, health and city officials, have also reinforced this information.

Municipalities have had to tape off parks, playgrounds, dog parks and hang messages because some people have not been obeying the restrictions. Malls are closed and restaurants are pick-up and delivery only.

The streets are relatively empty but some are not taking warnings seriously and officials warn there will be penalties for those who do not obey the orders.

Officials have also said nothing is off the table when it comes to slowing the spread of the virus, adding they will consider lockdowns to deal with those not obeying the mandatory stay home and social distancing directives.

“If people do not follow these protective measures then stronger ones affecting our civil liberties will be put in place to protect our city,” said de Villa.

This weekend officials have limited gatherings to five people or less and have stressed again to “stay home.”