We are in the midst of a global pandemic and Quebec has declared a state of emergency. Schools are closed and Premier Legeault just announced that bars, libraries, theatres and other public spaces will be as well. CLSCs and hospitals are turning people away, and the immune-compromised are being advised to stay home to avoid the Corona Virus.
During these trying times of toilet paper hoarding, quarantines, and hand sanitizer shortages, common sense and decency are the keys to getting through this epidemic in one piece. I am here to offer you some.
This article will give you a crash course on what to do and not do during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Virus Itself
There is an excellent video out there by Dr. Peter Lin, a family physician in Toronto. He talks in depth about the virus, but I’m going to give you the basics.
The Corona virus is a virus that started in animals and got transmitted to humans via a live animal being sold at a fish market in Wuhan, China. The virus itself is a family of viruses that latches on to your lungs and can cause everything from the common cold, to SARS or MERS.
The symptoms of the virus start off as those of the common cold i.e. runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever, and diarrhea. As it gets worse, people get short of breath, have difficulty taking in fluids, and their kidneys shut down.
Because the virus is new, there’s currently no way to treat the virus directly, so doctors are just quarantining people and addressing their symptoms. The people most at risk of catching it and dying are those with compromised immune systems; that means the elderly, babies, and people with chronic illnesses i.e. diabetes.
So How Can You Fight the Virus?
Wash your damn hands, and wash them often for at least twenty seconds. If you’re on the move, use hand sanitizer – a real one, not these all-natural snake oil versions so many idiots are promoting or posting recipes for online.
You should also avoid touching your face, as the virus spreads that way. Sadly, the surgical masks most people are wearing aren’t really helpful at preventing the virus because they’re not air tight.
That said, they are useful because they keep us from touching our faces and in cases where you’re coughing or sneezing, the masks keep whatever virus you have from spreading. No mask to cough or sneeze into? Use the crook of your elbow or a tissue.
If You Are Coughing or Sneezing, Wear a Mask
Do NOT get defensive or angry if you’re coughing or sneezing up a storm and someone offers you hand sanitizer or a clean mask. Remember that the flu kills thousands of people every year, and an epidemic is not the time to be a dick about this.
Whether it’s a common cold, allergies, or the flu causing your cough or congestion, don’t be a dick, wear a mask in closed spaces like elevators, metro cars, buses, and waiting rooms. If you refuse, do not be surprised, defensive, or angry if you are asked to leave.
This is a time when human contact should be avoided. I know in Quebec we love to do the two-cheek kiss thing, but that very well might be part of what got us in trouble to begin with.
Want to greet someone? Here are some alternatives from pop culture and around the world that do not involve touching one another:
- In the Philippines and Mexico, they will put their left hand over their heart and bow to one another
- The Vulcan “Live long and Prosper” hand gesture
- A friendly wave
- In Japan and China, bowing is common
- Smile at the person
- Touch elbows like Gene Wilder and Madeleine Kahn in Young Frankenstein
If you can afford to stay home, stay home. The virus is spreading in crowds, which is why the NHL and NBA have put their seasons on hold and concerts are being cancelled left and right.
Experts are recommending people avoid public transport, going to work etc. You may feel silly sitting in your apartment for two weeks, but self-isolation may very well save us all.
For those of you with day jobs, work from home if you can. Remember that your employer can and should face serious legal consequences if they try and penalize you for taking necessary precautions, even if that means not coming in to work.
In 2020 it is utterly absurd that with today’s technology employers are still insisting so much of the workforce do their jobs on site. The only thing that should matter to your employer is that the work gets done and sent to them, not where it’s done from.
Do not hoard toilet paper and other necessities. Unless you have severe gastro-intestinal symptoms, you’re just a jerk if you bought every last roll of it from your local store.
If you did stockpile toilet paper and are having regrets, share some with your more vulnerable neighbors i.e the elderly, disabled. You don’t have to put it in their hands. Leave a pack on their doorstep when they’re home with a friendly note and ring the doorbell. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.
If you were travelling recently, especially if your trip was to the US, you need to self-isolate immediately. The US has declared a state of emergency and your immune system was likely compromised by the travel itself.
If you have ANY symptoms or questions about COVD-19, call this number: 1 877 644-4545. The Info Sante number – 811 – has been having technical issues lately that caused waits of up to three hours this week so the government set up an alternate line. Call them if you need to.
Don’t Be Racist
Last but not least, DO NOT use the virus as an excuse to be racist to Asian people. The virus may have originated in China, but it has now spread worldwide.
In spite of this, people of Asian descent, be they Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean or Japanese are seeing an uptick in business boycotts and racist attacks. As a Filipino Canadian, I cannot help but shake my head at the stupidity of it all.
Here’s a wakeup call: Asians have been in Canada since before Confederation. Those railroads that allowed John A. MacDonald to unite Canada from sea to shining sea were built largely by early Chinese immigrants.
Whether it’s the descendants of those who built the railroads, those interned in camps during the Second World War, Filipinos who built communities in Montreal and Toronto, and refugees from the Vietnam War, Asian Canadians are part of what makes this country strong. In spite of this, there’s been vandalism in Chinatown.
Though Italy is on lockdown because of the virus, I haven’t seen any attacks on Italian Canadians in the news and the reason seems pretty obvious. Italians look Caucasian, Asians do not.
That said, don’t be racist, and call out anyone you see being racist towards Asian Canadians. Same goes for anyone picking on Iranian Canadians because the virus has spread in Iran.
The Corona virus is in Canada and things are crazy right now. Let’s keep a cool head and do what it takes to get through this in one piece.