Social distancing advised by Public Health to limit spread of COVID-19Issued: Monday, March 16, 2020
In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is ramping up its recommendations to the community to prevent local spread. These recommendations include more specific guidelines aimed at distancing people from each other and reducing the opportunity for the virus to spread from person to person.
“For greater benefit, it is important to implement social distancing measures early, even before there is evidence of local community spread,” said Dr. Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “There is a need to find a balance between the inconveniences and life changes that will occur with social distancing and their effectiveness in reducing disease transmission,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.
While there is not currently any evidence of community spread locally, Public Health Sudbury & Districts is taking timely action to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and slow the rate of disease spread. Public Health indicates that communities should not wait too long to take this action – saying that waiting until community transmission is confirmed, is likely too late to be of maximal benefit.
“In the context of COVID-19, the goal of social distancing is to ensure that we don’t all get sick at the same time. As we have seen in other countries, when this happens, the health care system and other critical services are overwhelmed,” said Dr. Sutcliffe. “Despite causing mild illness in most people, the COVID-19 virus can have a more severe impact on the health of older members of our communities and on those with underlying chronic health conditions,” she added.
This is what we mean by social distancing
- If you are experiencing symptoms, stay home. If you are not experiencing symptoms, but have had close contact with a confirmed case or have had recent travel outside of the country, stay home.
- Limit contact with vulnerable individuals, such as those who are at higher risk of negative health impacts (individuals who are ill or have poor health, elderly people, etc.). For example, avoid visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices, and other congregate care settings unless your visit is essential. Vulnerable individuals should also limit their exposure to crowded places.
- This also means separating from others and, if you are at higher risk, avoiding contact with those who might be more likely to transmit the disease, such as small children. Follow childcare guidance provided by Public Health regarding providing childcare during COVID-19 pandemic.
- Avoid crowded spaces and stay two metres apart from others when you will be in public areas for more than 15 minutes.
- If possible, limit or consider cancelling group gatherings. Gatherings with over 50 (as of March 16, 2020) people should not occur.
- Avoiding physical contact with others (for example, no handshakes).
- Ask your employer about options to work from home, if possible. If you have meetings planned, consider doing them virtually instead of in person.
- Whenever possible, spend time outside and in settings where people can maintain a two metre (6 feet) of distance from each other.
These guidelines do NOT mean “you must stay in your home.” Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Connecting with others using the key points above means that you can safely interact with others, if even virtually. For example, you can connect using technology or go outside to take a walk.
Remember: While you may not feel sick, and while we know these measures are significant, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.
Find important COVID-19 information at www.phsd.ca/COVID-19:
- Social distancing
- How to monitor your health
- How to self-isolate
- How to care for someone who is ill
- Guidance for travellers, employers, and health care providers
- How to prepare
COVID-19 Assessment Centre: Health Sciences North
- Health Sciences North (HSN) is running a COVID-19 Assessment Centre.
- Clients MUST call 705.671.7373 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 7 days per week and are directed to NOT present at HSN’s Emergency Department.
- The Assessment Centre is by appointment only. Walk-ins will not be seen.
- Not everyone who attends the clinic will be tested.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts call centre – for general information about COVID-19
- Call 705.522.9200 (Press 1), toll-free 1.866.522.9200.
- Availability: during regular business hours, and extended hours on evenings and weekends (subject to change based on call volumes).
- Callers can leave messages and Public Health staff will call back within 24 hours, unless extenuating circumstances.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath). Complications from the COVID-19 can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure, and in some cases, death.
IMPORTANT: If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200). Be sure to mention your symptoms and your travel history, including the countries you visited.
If you are ill and must visit a health care professional, call ahead and tell them if you have a respiratory illness. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.
At this time, the virus is not circulating locally. However, this is a rapidly changing situation requiring that our agency, community, and individuals be prepared for the potential wider spread of the infection in the community.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, and Public Health is committed to interpreting and communicating local, provincial, and federal guidance.
Visit phsd.ca/COVID-19 for information about social distancing, how you can prepare for the spread of COVID-19, how to monitor your health, how to self-isolate, and what to do if you think you are sick. For additional information, please call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200). The Public Health COVID-19 website has personal preparedness information, specific guidance for employers, guidance for schools and childcare programs, travel information, guidance for health care providers, and additional COVID-19 resources.