By now you’ve probably heard the advice from experts that any Nova Scotian who has travelled outside of the province must self-isolate for 14 days when they return. But what exactly does self-isolation mean? And why does it matter so much?
It’s about making sure our hospitals can not only take care of the Nova Scotians who will get seriously sick from COVID-19, but also the Nova Scotians who will still need care for regular medical emergencies during this pandemic.
Who needs to self-isolate for 14 days?
- Anyone who has travelled outside of Nova Scotia. It doesn’t matter where you went or if you feel fine—you still must self-isolate.
- You live with, provided care for, or spent a lot of time with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travelling outside of Nova Scotia.
- Many people most at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 are deciding on their own to self-isolate as a precaution.
How do you self-isolate?
- arrange for someone to pick up groceries, medications and other supplies and leave them outside your door. Don’t hand items over in person.
- you can order food online from most grocery stores and have it delivered to your door. Again—don’t hand items over in person.
- In some smaller communities, local organizations may be able to help with food deliveries. Watch for news from your local officials and organizations.
- if you like, put a sign on your door letting people know you’re self-isolating and can’t answer the door. Instruct people to leave items outside.
- have a buddy in your neighbourhood you can text, email or call regularly, especially if you’re self-isolating solo.
- don’t go outside to run errands, don’t take the bus or ferry and say no to visitors. The only time you should leave is to go to a pre-arranged medical appointment.
- if you aren’t having symptoms and aren’t self-isolating because you came in direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may go outside in your backyard or for a short walk. Stay two metres (six feet) away from people.
- pay attention to how you feel. If you start to have a fever of 38°C or higher and/or you start having a new cough, read this online questionnaire to see if you should call 811.
- if you are unwell or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, separate yourself from others in your household as much as possible (wash your hands often, disinfect high-touch surfaces like counters and taps, use a separate room with a separate bathroom, if you can, use separate dishes and cutlery, and have meals left outside your door).
- if you live in shared accommodations, leave your room only when necessary. Avoid using the kitchen or bathroom when others are there. Wash your hands often, dispose used tissues in a plastic bag and tie it up when it’s full, and wash your hands afterwards.
- if you have COVID-19 and need to leave your house for a medical appointment, speak with your health-care provider first.
Why does it matter?
For weeks, COVID-19 has been making thousands of people sick around the world. It’s now reached every province in Canada. If you’ve travelled abroad, there’s a chance you might have come in contact with someone who has the virus. Being in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 in airports and on airplanes is one of the ways this virus spreads.
We all have a role to play
Self-isolating keeps you from infecting people around you, especially people most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they get COVID-19: people who are over age 65, and anyone with a weak immune system or conditions like lung disease, diabetes, cancer and asthma. With this disease, everyone is at risk.
Ultimately, we need to make sure that our health-care system can handle all the sick people who will need urgent medical care during this pandemic. We also need to protect health-care providers from getting sick, so that they can be there to help us.
If you have general questions about COVID-19, visit the provincial coronavirus info hub or call the toll-free federal info line at 1-833-784-4397.
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