COVID-19 preparing for a potential pandemic

With several countries reporting that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is spreading within the general population, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has noted that the global risk related to the virus is evolving. For now, the risk in Canada remains low. Delaying the spread of the virus and becoming more prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in Canada is of great importance.

“To date, efforts in Canada and Ontario have been successful in detecting and managing sporadic cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sutcliffe, Sudbury & Districts Medical Officer of Health. “The changing situation also requires that our agency, community, and individuals be prepared for the potential wider spread of the infection in the community — we need to be ready to adapt to a range of possible scenarios and shift our approaches, as needed,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

Public Health Sudbury & Districts continues to be involved in planning and preparedness activities with local partners and provincial counterparts. Along with local stakeholders, Public Health is focusing efforts on business continuity, minimizing the burden on the health care system, and protecting critical infrastructure functions. The agency is basing its planning on its longstanding influenza pandemic plan which includes different scenarios of how the community is impacted.

What individuals and families can do to prepare

It is important to be ready for emergencies—from power outages to infectious diseases.

Supplies

Having supplies on hand for shorter (enough for a minimum of three days) and longer periods of time is important. For example:

  • non-perishable foods (simple to prepare)
  • water: one gallon per person, per day
  • prescription medication
  • simple medical supplies (first aid kit)
  • pet food
  • chargers for cellphones to stay up-to-date on alerts and warnings

Planning

Create a plan based on your needs and daily routines, including having other options for child, elder, and pet care.

  • If someone gets sick, have a care plan. In advance, talk to people who might be able to help.
  • Some people are at greater risk of health complications from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and influenza (for example, older adults and people with certain health conditions). Check in on them and follow the advice from health care providers.
  • Get to know and check in on your neighbours. Stay connected by phone or social media.
  • Identify agencies that may be able to offer help, whether for food, mental health support, or other supplies.
  • Create an emergency contact list, for example, information for doctors, friends, family, community services.
  • Make copies of crucial personal documents.

What you can do to stay healthy

  • Simple, easy, and routine hygiene practices can help you stay healthy:
    • regular handwashing or using alcohol-based sanitizer
    • not touching your face
    • covering your cough or sneeze
    • putting tissues in waste baskets and washing your hands afterwards
    • staying home when feeling sick
    • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used areas and objects in your home, daycare, office, and classroom to help prevent the spread of germs (cellphones, door handles, light switches, toys, etc.).
  • Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. Remember to get the annual influenza (flu) vaccine, too.
  • If you are travelling, refer to the Government of Canada’s travel advice for notices and advisories https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html.

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace, or health care centre. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, difficulty breathing. The illness appears to be relatively mild for most people infected; however, the illness can be much more severe or even fatal for older people and those with underlying health conditions.

For credible and reliable information about COVID-19, visit phsd.ca/COVID-19, call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200), or follow Public Health on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

For medical advice, Telehealth Ontario is available 24/7 at 1.866.797.0000 (TTY 1.866.797.0007). If you must visit a health care setting or hospital, follow the instructions posted at the entrance. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911, mention your symptoms, and follow the guidance they provide.

This item was last modified on February 27, 2020