COVID19 FAQ’s – How can I prepare? I’m worried. Is there something I can do to prepare?
We have been receiving many questions around #COVID19. People are expressing their worry, asking if they should do anything to prepare, and wondering whether they should stock up on various items.
It’s ok to be worried and wanting to prepare. The important thing is not to panic, and to ensure that our preparations don’t have a negative impact on others. We don’t want to contribute to stock outs of masks or other items. We also want to do our individual part to not overwhelm health care services nor to spread panic.
But it makes sense to sit down with family and/or coworkers and discuss what you would do in different scenarios, as a basis for any preparation that you’d need to do in advance.
Here are 3 scenarios you may want to prepare for, or at least discuss within your family. The likelihood of these happening is variable from place to place and will change overtime as the epidemic progresses.
- Some disruption in daily routines. This is the most likely of the three scenarios. In cities/areas where the virus starts spreading, governments may implement measures that may disrupt your daily routine, such as closing schools, requesting employees to work from home, cancelling large gatherings and events, etc. It makes sense to plan ahead and discuss with your family, neighbors and at your work how you will deal with these disruptions. For example, if schools close, can you negotiate with your employer to work from home? Can you take turns with neighbors and friends caring for school-children?
- Self-quarantine or self-isolation. Less likely is the possibility that you or one of your family members is requested to self-quarantine due to potential contact with a COVID19 case. This may mean 14 days or so at home. In some places, governments are also asking people with respiratory symptoms (which may be caused by the common cold or other respiratory infections) to stay home from school or work (self-isolation). This would probably just mean a few days at home. What do you need to put into place to deal with a self-quarantine? Can someone bring you groceries or can you stock up a little bit? Can you use a delivery service? Are there any essential items that you need to have (e.g. certain medicines for chronic conditions or for common childhood illnesses (fever, diarrhea, cough)? If you need to work from home, do you have the software, equipment and access to files you need? Also consider that in case of self-quarantine you may not be able to get external help for child care, such as baby-sitters, or you may not want to ask grandparents for support, as older people are at higher risk of complications from COVID19.
- Hospitalization. The least likely scenario is that you or a family member will fall ill with COVID19 and actually have symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization (so far the data shows most cases have mild symptoms). How would you organize yourself and your family in this scenario? Who can help at home or caring for the children? If you’re a business owner, how can you plan ahead to ensure minimal disruption if someone falls sick? Of course, this last one would apply if you or a family member would require hospitalization for ANY reason, not just due to COVID19, so it’s a plan that’s good to have in any case.
A word on stock outs. These can occur due to disruptions in supply chains, but also ofter due to panic shopping. It’s important not to contribute to stock outs with our own buying behaviour. There is particular concern with stock outs of masks. WHO recommends the use of masks only for healthcare personnel, for people who are sick (to prevent spread of droplets), and for healthy people caring for sick relatives at home.
A word on caring for older family members and friends. You may also want to consider how to best care for older family members and those with chronic conditions, who may be at higher risk of more severe COVID19 symptoms. Can you call in more often to check in on them? Can you make sure they have a small stock of any medications they take? Maybe take the time to discuss any concerns they may have? If they live in assisted care, you may want to check with the organization to hear about their measures and contingency plans for handling COVID19 and other respiratory infections.
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