I wasn’t going to do this. I thought it was better to let the authorities do the teaching without any interference. And don’t get me wrong, you should definitely listen to the authorities. But, the way things have been going, I would feel stupid not to share the knowledge I have; even if no one reads this post, at least I tried, right? I’m not aiming to scare you, but only to educate, because not everyone is taking this as seriously as they should.
As many of you know, I live in Canada. The situation here changes by the day, but currently Canada has 846 cases. 146 of these are in my province. Out of that, 101 cases are in the city I live in. All schools are closed until further notice, with online education resuming after spring break. All elective surgeries are cancelled, except oncology and cesarean sections. All dental practices are closed except for emergencies. Many businesses have closed temporarily. There is a ban of gatherings of no more than 50 people. These are some of many restrictions our government has put into place. Many of these measures were introduced when we (Alberta) had only about 20 cases, which was about a week ago, and is less cases than what New Zealand have now. Canada is basically on lockdown. For my family and friends in New Zealand, I am shocked to see that the New Zealand government isn’t doing more…I recognize New Zealand has yet to see community transmission, but honestly, with the way things are going and the number of cases continuing to rise, I would have hoped to see greater restrictions put into place.
Even if you think it’s not going to affect you, even if you feel absolutely fine, you should be putting steps into place of social distancing, because some people are more vulnerable and any steps you can take to help stop the spread does make a difference. This is a personal plea; my husband is in the small bracket of oncology surgeries going ahead (he has a benign tumor that they’ve decided to take out as it was what caused his bowel perforation over Christmas). So he is having major open bowel surgery, and over the next few weeks he will not only be more vulnerable, but also in a place that has high exposure to the virus.
So what can you do to help people in similar situations as ours? (and with the bonus effect of hopefully not contracting it yourself)
- Everyone’s saying it. Wash your hands. I have additional advice around this. With a background in the operating rooms I have a greater knowledge around infection control than the usual lay person. So here’s the extra advice:
- Treat the community as both: a) already infected and b) vulnerable to being infected by you (even if you are showing no symptoms). Whenever you go out, wash your hands before leaving so you don’t accidentally spread pathogens. When out, hand sanitize regularly and do not touch your face. When you get back, wash your hands immediately upon entering your home.
- When you wash your hands pay particular attention to the cracks. We’ve all seen those pictures of how to wash your hands, but pay attention to why you’re washing them, too. Steps numbered 2-4 are because pathogens build up between your fingers. Step 6 is to help get pathogens out from the cracks in your palms, and to help rid of some of the pathogens from under your nails.
- Drying your hands. We’ve all seen those people who give their hands a brief run under the tap and then scoot out the washroom with a couple of quick shakes. Warm, wet hands are the perfect growing medium. It totally defeats washing them in the first place. Get sparkly, get clean, and get dry.
- Clean under your nails regularly, and keep them short. You don’t need to be too crazy about it, but this is another hot spot for pathogens to hide.
- Nail Polish and fake nails – if you want to go hardcore (which you should) in preventing infection, take off the nail polish, remove the fakes. These harbor pathogens. Wear those bare hands with pride, knowing you’re doing your bit in preventing spread.
- Lastly, rings. Although it’s hard to take them off when you’re out in the community, move them up your finger and wash underneath, making sure that you don’t miss this particular area, and make sure to thoroughly dry the area too, as this is often where residual dampness can cause proliferation.