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How to self-isolate during the coronavirus crisis

Thursday, March 12th 2020, 8:45 am - More Canadians are being asked to to self-isolate at home for 2 weeks at a time

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, more Canadians are being asked to to self-isolate at home — for two weeks at a time — if they are symptomatic, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are returning from an area that's experiencing an outbreak, or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the illness.

CBC explains what that means.

WHY ARE PEOPLE TOLD TO SELF-ISOLATE AT HOME?

The majority of COVID-19 cases in Ontario have been mild and have not required hospitalization, much less acute care treatment, said David Jensen, a spokesperson with Ontario's Ministry of Health, in an email to CBC News. People who are only mildly ill are asked to isolate at home to ensure hospitals can maintain the capacity to treat and manage more severe cases, if required.

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HOW ARE AUTHORITIES ENSURING THESE PEOPLE AREN'T GOING OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY? IS IT AN HONOUR SYSTEM?

Local public health units regularly check in with people who have confirmed cases to ensure they are abiding by guidelines for self-isolation, Jensen said. In addition, medical officers of health have statutory powers they can use to enforce self-isolation if they believe people are not following quarantine orders.

If someone is found to be non-compliant with any of the conditions for self-isolation at home, they could face significant fines and penalties under the Quarantine Act, a spokesperson with the federal Public Health Agency of Canada said.

CAN THEY LEAVE THE PREMISES?

People in self-isolation are asked to stay at home, unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care. They should arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at the door.

Coronavirus/CBC News Self-isolation guide. Photo: CBC News.

CAN RELATIVES, HOUSEMATES STAY IN THE HOME OF SOMEONE IN SELF-ISOLATION?

Yes, however, health officials advise that any person in self-isolation should avoid contact with others — keeping a distance of at least two meters — and wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. Officials also advise staying in separate rooms and using separate bathrooms if possible.

HOW ABOUT PETS?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says there is currently no evidence to suggest that any animal native to Canada (wild, livestock or pets) harbours the virus that causes COVID-19, and animals in Canada don't pose a risk of infecting people with the virus.

Still, the agency recommends that, until more is known about human to animal transmission, patients infected with COVID-19 who also have a pet or other animal should avoid close contact with them.

WHAT ABOUT THE USE OF HOUSEHOLD ITEMS?

People in self-isolation are asked to avoid sharing household items, including dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding and other objects, PHAC says.

ANY SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR CLEANING?

PHAC says that at least once daily, individuals in self-isolation should clean and disinfect surfaces they touch often, such as toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, light switches, phones and television remotes. Regular household disinfectants are fine.

Contaminated items that cannot be cleaned should be placed in a lined container and disposed of with other household waste.

Thumbnail courtesy of CBC News.

The story originally appeared on CBC.ca.

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