COVID-19 in Ontario: 7 Principles for a Safe Journey to Normal

Posted by Dr. Joanne Baldos and Dr. Adam Szymczak on May 5, 2020 10:24:04 PM

Other countries are returning to normal, other provinces are returning to normal... When is Ontario returning to normal? Will we return to normal or a "new normal"?

 

The most current Emergency Order by the Ontario government extension is ending June 9. What happens next?

The number of new cases in Ontario is no longer increasing. Ontario is now in a good position to join other countries and other provinces in easing restrictions.

 

Ontario has been taking steps to a return to normal. The first step started on May 4th, Certain Businesses in Ontario are Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines: such as garden centres, landscaping and essential construction projects.

 

As we all begin our own personal and collective journey to normal, we must always keep in mind and apply the 7 Principles for a Safe Journey to Normal.

 

These principles will be applied by all governments, all health organizations, all businesses worldwide, everyone's actions and inactions should also be guided by these principles.

 

Several times a day we all get bombarded with news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic. 90% of that information is NOT helpful: it is either inaccurate or irrelevant to you!

 

We cut through the unhelpful and focus on what matters: the 7 Principles for a Safe Journey to Normal: 

 

 

PRINCIPLE #1: THE RETURN TO "NORMAL" MUST BE GRADUAL 

What are you going to do and when? What are you NOT going to do and when? Ultimately, each of us will be guided by our feelings and understanding about COVID-19.

 

Personality types will play a part. The adventurous and carefree will venture out sooner. The cautious and anxious will take longer to "come out and play."

 

We must set aside our thoughts and feelings and follow the advice of Health Experts: people and organizations that are looking out for our well-being and have the expertise to guide us

(starting with the highest levels of expertise): 

This is what we want:

COVID-19: Active Cases in China

 

Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we need to remind ourselves and each other not to squander the sacrifices that we all have made to flatten the curve

 

THE PROGRESS CAN BE EASILY UNDONE as it has happened in the past. For example, during the 1918 flu pandemic, the city of San Francisco was encouraged by the lower numbers and lifted the preventive measures too early. The pandemic rebounded causing a longer second-wave outbreak with more cases and deaths than the first:

COVID-19: San Francisco 1918

The best approach is "SAFETY FIRST", which means a gradual, staged approach guided by expert health organizations.

 

Do you remember, the terrorist attack of 9/11 in 2001? There was a profound initial response: airplanes stopped flying! With time the restrictions were eased while maintaining our safety.

 

The initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic was profound: we were ordered to stay home. With time the restrictions will be eased while maintaining safety. 

 

We must continue to work TOGETHER with compassion and patience and follow the guidance of experts so that we can ALL safely return to normal.

 

PRINCIPLE #2: PHYSICAL DISTANCING must Continue

Coronavirus spread without social distancing

Do you believe the above conclusion? You should because it is true!

Social distancing has proven power to save lives:

Coronavirus spread with social distancing

World Health Organization and Centres for Disease Control agree on how COVID-19 spreads:

  1. When someone who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks they release droplets of infected fluid from their lungs through the mouth and/or nose.
  2. These infectious droplets are heavy, do not travel far and quickly fall to the ground.
  3. If you happen to be in close proximity to someone who has COVID-19 and breathe in these droplets before they fall to the ground you might become infected with the virus. 

To protect yourself against this pathway of transmission The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to distance yourself from others by 1 meter, but the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says 2 meters (two arms’ length)!? Which is it?

 

Most droplets created from speaking fall to the ground within 1 meter, however, apply the "better safe than sorry" rule and use the 2-meter rule when speaking to someone.

 

Keep in mind that coughing can spreads droplets as far as 6 meters away and sneezing can reach up to 8 meters! The 2-meter rule does NOT work in these situations. 

 

Physical distancing and physical barriers are the most effective ways to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19.

 

We will not be quarantined in our homes for the rest of our lives. When we are allowed to venture out, carefully choose the activities and people that you will be adding back to your life: start with low-risk people and low-risk environments.

 

This is exactly what the Ontario government is doing first opening the businesses where physical distancing can be maintained.

 

Densely populated areas have a challenge with physical distancing, this is why:

 

COVID-19 virus is spread from person-to-person when the moisture from an infected person's lungs in the form of large respiratory droplets are inhaled by a nearby person. 

 

These large droplets from the lungs quickly fall down with gravity infecting the surfaces where they land and may remain infectious for days if not sanitized, so we all should continue to:

 

 

PRINCIPLE #3: ALWAYS PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE 

 

Coronavirus infection prevention: PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE

 

COVID-19 virus is spread through FOMITES: a surface that contains the virus.

 

Infected people leave behind the virus on surfaces:

  • directly by coughing or sneezing and the respiratory droplets land on objects
  • indirectly by touching objects (especially surfaces touched by hands)

When you go out minimize touching public surfaces. Surfaces that are more frequently touched with hands are more likely to contain the infectious coronavirus, as such assume all public surfaces may contain the infectious coronavirus. If you must touch public surfaces use a barrier and/or sanitize after.

 

You can get infected IF you get the virus on your hands AND then you touch your eyes, nose or mouth which are pathways to the lungs. The coronavirus infects the lungs (respiratory system) as the virus has cell receptors for lung cells.

 

You can NOT get infected through your skin. Even if you get the virus on your hands as long as you DO NOT TOUCH your face you will NOT get infected.

 

People unknowingly touch their faces on average 23 times per hour and about half of all face touches involve touching eyes/nose/mouth. As such wash your hands with soap and water (at least 20 seconds) AND/OR alcohol-based hand sanitizer (greater than 60% alcohol to be effective) after touching any frequently publicly used items or surfaces as soon as possible or when you get home.

 

Do not take the technique of washing hands for granted. Many people neglect the fingertips, thumbs and the areas between fingers. Many people do not spend enough time washing their hands: at least 20 seconds contact time between soap and each part of the hand.

 

It is worth reviewing information and videos on how to clean your hands

 

 

PRINCIPLE #4: STAYING CALM Boosts your Immune System

three-wooden-signage-in-a-tree-close-up-photography-2562560

 

It is a scientific fact that prolonged or severe stress weakens the immune system and makes us more susceptible to all infections, including COVID-19: 

  • Be constructive about reducing your stress: sleep, exercise, mediation, yoga… 
  • Avoid destructive means of reducing stress such as excessive alcohol or drugs. 
  • Seek professional help if you are struggling with managing your stress levels. 

 

Be careful about the information you consume:

  • Negative news headlines are helpful in that they scare people into helping themselves and each other by practicing physical distancing and good hygiene. 
  • Negative news headlines can also be destructive in that they can cause unnecessary stress, anxiety and panic which will weaken your immune system.

People are uncomfortable with not knowing.

 

It is human nature to seek answers, so much so that people would rather have the wrong information than simply accept that something is unknown or unknowable.

 

Several times a day we all get bombarded with news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic. 90% of that information is NOT helpful: it is either inaccurate or irrelevant to you!

 

Watching the news and social media is like eating junk food, we can't help it and consume it in the moment but in the long run, it causes problems. Get your information from the sources listed in Principle #1 listed above.

 

Social media and the news feed people's emotions. Whatever you feel, you will feel more of it by consuming popular media. You choose what you read or watch based on how you feel, not the other way around. Being aware of one's own beliefs and emotional state allows us to dampen this confirmation bias and search for the truth.

 

All the expert organizations ( WHO, CDC, NIH, Government of Canada, Ministry of Health Ontario ...) are in agreement: The ONLY WAY for the virus to get to your lungs is through your nose or mouth or eyes via your hands or inhaling the large respiratory droplets from an infected person's cough, sneeze and possibly speaking.

 

People do not seem to be comfortable accepting this conclusion. Fuelled by fear and the desire to be safe people search for "other ways" that it might be possible to get sick:

 

1) Google: " 5G causes coronavirus" and you will get over 36 MILLION pages! A Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has been supplying 5G technology to upgrade the United Kingdom's telecommunications infrastructure. There has been a huge movement of people destroying telecommunication towers and attacking those who are building the towers because they believe that the towers help the spread of COVID-19. Arsonists in the United Kingdom and across Europe are destroying cellphone towers.

 

2) Social media, mainstream media and the internet have done a great job confusing people about the coronavirus being airborne: Can you get COVID-19 from the air? Let's look at the facts:

 

None of the expert health organizations have ever stated that COVID-19 is airborne.

 

Airborne diseases are highly infectious and spread much quicker then COVID-19 virus:

The reproductive number of COVID-19 is about 3. The COVID-19 virus spreads through respiratory droplets like the common cold NOT through the air like measles and chickenpox.

 

If the COVID-19 virus is not spread through the air why the recommendation to wear masks?

 

The recommendation to wear a mask in public where social distancing is not possible has been made so that you do not infect others because asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is possible with this virus!

  • Asymptomatic transmission refers to the transmission of the virus from a person who has the virus but will never get sick and hence they do not know that they are infectious.
  • Pre-symptomatic transmission refers to the transmission of the virus from a person who will get sick but is not sick right now hence they do not know that they are infectious.

The recommendation to wear a mask is NOT to protect you from catching the virus from the air! 

 

Has it been proven that you can't catch the COVID-19 virus from the air?

No. It has also not been proven that the common cold can not be transmitted through the air and the common cold has been around for about 200 years!

 

Proving that something does not happen or does not exist is impossible! How do you prove that the Tooth Fairy does not exist?

 

The way numbers are being reported by the media can be scary and confusing. The most important number to focus on is the number of new cases in your region:

COVID-19 Ontario: New Cases Numbers

 

The trend of decreasing numbers of new cases started in late April and has continued into May. If this continues the Ontario government will continue to scale back on restrictions and enforcement of physical distancing rules.

 

With gradual relaxation of physical distancing and continued improved hygiene habits the good progress will continue.

 

PRINCIPLE #5: STAY HEALTHY to Defeat the Coronavirus

 

Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. There will be a vaccine in about 12 months.

 

There is no cure or proven treatment for COVID-19, just like there is no cure or treatment for regular flu. The treatment for COVID-19 involves "symptomatic care", which basically means keeping a person comfortable and alive to allow the body to fight off the virus.

 

IF the virus enters your lungs, your only defence is your immune system. Stay healthy:

  • drink plenty of water
  • get enough sleep
  • eat a variety of healthy foods 
  • exercise 
  • stay warm 
  • avoid drugs and smoking

 

If you suspect that you may have COVID-19, do a self-assessment BEFORE going to the doctor, you want to reduce the chance of getting others sick!

 

 

PRINCIPLE #6: MISINFORMATION is ALL Around us!

FIGHT MISINFORMATION about COVID-19

 

The most important lesson from this pandemic that we hope everyone has learned is that there is an incredible amount of misinformation on the internet and in mainstream media about every single topic, including the coronavirus.

 

The internet is convenient but HUGELY inaccurate unless you know where and what to look for. 

 

Over 75% of news reports on the coronavirus outbreak is fake news according to the Anti-Fake News Centre, some examples of misinformation about coronavirus:

 

The fake news and false information on the internet are ENDLESS! You might think that only gullible people would fall for the above examples, but here are 2 sources of ALL fake news that you may end up believing:

 

1) “clueless people" who you trust and/ or appear to know what they are talking about, but lack expertise in the subject matter that they are talking about. Some common daily examples:

  • a politician talking about medicine: President Trump's Lies About the Coronavirus
  • your "friend" on Facebook that means well, but has not checked the facts before sharing or liking a post with you: Facebook is Full of Coronavirus Fake News

It does not matter if the intentions of a "clueless person" are good and they believe that they are being truthful. Honesty does not mean truth! Honesty means that the person thinks they are being truthful. Clueless people are HONESTLY WRONG! 

 

2) business people” who want to profit from the misinformation they are feeding you: 

 

It is infuriating that at a time of a GLOBAL crisis when we need truthful and helpful information more than ever, there are those trying to profit by tapping into people’s fears and uncertainty about the outbreak:

 

The misinformation about COVID-19 is harmful:

  • adds confusion to an already uncertain information environment 
  • wastes people’s money
  • subjects people to harmful products and procedures
  • wastes people’s time and distracts them from helpful strategies
  • heightens people’s fear and anxiety

PLEASE be an advocate of the truth about COVID-19. Use reliable sources for your information: people and organizations that are looking out for your well-being and know what they are talking about, without trying to make money out of you: (in order of expertise): 

 

Some measures and recommendations vary from region to region as such you should also follow your local area health experts:

 

STOP using social media and the internet to find information! Stick to facts as communicated by public health agencies or medical professionals: use the above sources!

 

Social media and the internet are based on popularity. Popular does NOT mean accurate. Just because another person finds something interesting or engaging does not mean it is true or helpful. Social media amplifies misinformation.

 

PRINCIPLE #7: Minimizing Financial Impact 

Minimizing Financial Impact of COVID-19

 

If we ALL follow the above recommendations, a negative impact of the coronavirus on your health is extremely unlikely.

 

However, the negative impact on your finances is extremely likely, almost certain. Here are some helpful ideas:

  • stop all discretionary spending
  • purchase only essential goods and services
  • secure a personal line of credit (use your home as collateral, you will get a lower rate), you only pay interest if you use the line of credit
  • if you have been laid off call 1-800-206-7218 Employment and Social Development Canada so that you can obtain more information about their EI Benefits
  • look into government programs that are being offered as a result of this pandemic

 

The coronavirus outbreak reminds us all about the importance of our health. 

 

As everyone’s finances get strained it becomes even more important to make your money go further: DENTIST PRICES and DENTAL COSTS: Finding Affordable Dental Care. Be an educated consumer, it will save you money!

 

CONCLUSION:

SUPPORT SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY about COVID-19
Your return to normal should be gradual guided by expert health organizations and the "safety first" approach.

 

Physical distancing and physical barriers are the most effective ways to reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19. However, we are social beings and we can't live quarantined in our homes for the rest of our lives. So when we are allowed to venture out, carefully choose the activities and people that you will be adding back to your life: start with low-risk people (people who took this pandemic seriously and followed the recommendations) and low-risk environments.

 

Do not touch your face and/or wash your hands after touching public surfaces.

 

Avoid misinformation it will stress you out and weaken your immune system. Stay calm, healthy and strong.

 

Several times a day we all get bombarded with news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic. 90% of that information is NOT helpful: it is either inaccurate or irrelevant to you!

 

In case you are wondering about a dental appointment with Smile Care Dental, click on:

Smile Care Dental: Policy and Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

We have been working hard for the past 2 months to share information with you that is accurate AND up to date AND helpful in keeping you and your family healthy and safe during the pandemic.

 

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Which part of the information above did you find most helpful?

Did we miss something that you think is helpful for people to know?

 

In the best interest of your health and well-being,

Dr. Joanne Baldos and Dr. Adam Szymczak

 

P.S. People that you know will benefit from this information. Please share this information with your family, friends, and colleagues. (the best way to share is to email people the link to this page OR clicking the social sharing links at the top of this page)

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