As more areas in Canada reopen and millions of people return to restaurants, gyms, stores and salons, infectious disease experts say there are some important precautions that business owners and individuals should take to avoid further infections.
Unlike the Northern and Atlantic provinces, where fewer cases mean more companies can operate near normal levels in most parts of the epidemic, many provinces severely affected by COVID-19 cases are only easing the last round of public health restrictions that began in Coming weeks.
Alberta unveiled Plan to reopen completely Early July on Wednesday after that SaskatchewanAnd the QuebecIn Ontario in B.C. All governorates aim to gradually cancel restrictions in the coming weeks and months, as the number of cases continues to decrease as vaccination coverage increases.
This means that shopping, eating, exercising, working in the office, going to school in person, and meeting family and friends will soon become a part of everyday life in more areas.
“Yes, things are opening up,” said Dr. Stephanie Smith, a professor in the department of infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta and director of infection prevention and control at the university.
But we cannot abandon all the measures that we have taken. “
This means preserving public health precautions, such as wearing masks, physical distance, and basic hand hygiene – and, in the case of some workplaces, improving ventilation – during this transition period to normality, when many Canadians are at risk and not at risk. .
“We have to realize that even though our case numbers are dropping… there is still COVID-19 in the community,” Smith said.
Ventilation and wearing a mask are both keywords
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Srinivas Murthy, assistant professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, said Canadians should deal with the risks of transmission of the virus based on the latest knowledge of how the virus is transmitted.
He said, “In an ideal world, we would have a clear direction for public health from each of our powers.” “Do’s and don’ts in this context.”
Murthy said the 3C approach developed in Japan – avoiding confined spaces, crowded spaces, and cramped communication settings – sums up the best lessons we’ve learned so far about curb transmission.
Epidemiological case studies have also reported long-range transmission of the virus over a few meters in various indoor locations, such as churches, restaurants, concert halls and office buildings. Report notes It was released earlier this month by Public Health Ontario, citing the need to enhance airflow indoors or stay outdoors whenever possible.
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Smith said, “It’s easy to say,” Open a window. “But the truth is, when we start looking at hiring people to use the HEPA filter and everything, it’s on a different level. There are costs involved.”
Therefore, it can be a financial challenge for small businesses to address ventilation issues. However, larger workplaces like factories, where outbreaks often occur, need to find the root cause of their transmission problems and work with local public health officials to find solutions, Smith said.
“Usually people go in and out of the store. They go in there for a very short time and at this point they are masked,” she said. “Bee Meat packing plantPeople work eight hours a day, often from nearby. “
Dr. Alex Wong, an infectious disease physician in Regina, said improving ventilation is generally beneficial. He said wearing the mask will likely be a staple of everyday life in the coming months as more Canadians are vaccinated.
South of the Border, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recently relaxed guidelines for wearing the mask indoors For people who have been fully vaccinated allowing them to safely stop wearing masks indoors in most places.
But Wong said that given that the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals in Canada still lags behind the United States, we are not there yet, which means that face coverings will continue to be an important tool for protecting at-risk individuals as more people begin to mix. And back to. Workplaces.
“The disappearance still carries a lot of meanings in closed and public spaces,” he said.
Move away from the precautions on the roof
What is less reasonable, according to Murthy, is that companies and individuals circumvent these measures while relying too much on methods to prevent surface transmission, which most researchers agree is not the primary method of infection.
“We came back when we were grocery shopping or cleaning fruit properly to avoid COVID-19; we’ve learned a lot since then.”
This focus on roofs began early and included practices such as office buildings that invest in regular cleanings, cashiers wiping out discount vending machines, and mandatory hand disinfection at store entrances.
At this point, Murthy was one of those who weren’t sure how many infections could be prevented with these methods, and some experts even call it “Clean theater” An approach that promotes a sense of safety more than actually stopping transmission of the virus.
“ The current evidence is strongly suggestive Transport contaminated surfaces It does not contribute significantly to new infections, ”notes the latest guidelines from the CDC.
According to Smith, there is a certain degree of fumite prevalence, but it is “definitely much less than we initially thought.”
Is hand washing important? She said. “Yes, still.”
Many experts recommend this step as a precaution to avoid injury to people after touching their face or mouth.
Murthy stressed, however, that companies and individuals should spend more energy to maintain adequate distance and adequate ventilation when reopening areas, “rather than focus heavily on hand sanitation at every entry point.”
Provinces at “various points”
As more Canadians get a full vaccine, or even a single dose, hopes are high that in the coming months it will be easier to lift even the most stringent restrictions.
“If you meet in a group that includes fully vaccinated people, the risk is definitely much lower,” Smith said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health official, says the provinces You should only start by removing the restrictions on public health Once 75 percent of adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine – and 20 percent are fully vaccinated – most counties move at a faster pace.
This was not surprising to Wong, who said that the different regions are at different points, which means that there is no nationwide schedule to return to normal.
In some Canadian regions, they are already closer to normal with many non-essential industries operating, while provinces that are about to reopen are finally seeing a decrease in the number of cases as vaccination coverage increases.
Meanwhile, Manitoba is already working to expand its restrictions in a devastating third wave as the province’s intensive care units continue to fill in with COVID-19 patients, some of them. Transfer to hospitals in Ontario.
“We are all at very different points on our curve,” said Wong.