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What fall means for COVID-19

Monday, September 14th 2020, 6:56 am - What the change in season means for COVID-19 transmission

Could a change in season spark another wave of COVID-19 transmission? That’s been a fear of many health care workers.

“What matters the most is people being in close contact for a prolonged period of time -- that’s where the bulk of transmission is occurring,” says Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease doctor in Mississauga, Ontario. “It was thought that temperature could play a role, however it’s hard to translate these findings into the real world. What doctors do know for sure is being inside in a closed space with other people is a sure way for a virus to spread.”

As the seasons change, so do our behaviours. We huddle indoors, close the windows and lack vitamin D. All of these things can lead to a weakened immune system and a higher risk of coming into contact with the virus.

“When you are indoors, I think the biggest thing is spreading people out," explains Dr. Chakrabarti. "I know we always talk about this magic 2 meters, but we have to remember sometimes that is not possible. But even one meter does give you some risk reduction. Where it is possible, open windows that can help with air exchanges -- and sometimes there are other things that people can do from an HVAC stand point to help with room ventilation.”

Visit our Complete Guide to Fall 2020 for an in depth look at the Fall Forecast, tips to plan for it and a sneak peek at the winter ahead

"Since there has been such a large effort to wear a mask, social distance and wash hands, the flu season in the southern hemisphere has been mild. I definitely do expect to see an increase in flu and COVID-19 in the winter months, however, the results from the southern hemisphere are often an indication of what we will see here. Overall, it should not be as bad as many are fearing.”

Below are two scenarios plotted out by The Health Agency of Canada:

Below are two scenarios plotted out by The Health Agency of Canada 1 Below are two scenarios plotted out by The Health Agency of Canada 2 Source: The Canadian Press, Public Health Agency of Canada

As medical experts hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, Canadians are urged to get the flu shot as this will decrease your risk of becoming hospitalized and further overwhelming the system.

Another ask is not to fall out of the new habits we have all adapted, such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing and washing our hands. These behaviours should have a large impact as we experience fall and winter during a pandemic.

How can we help limit an outbreak?

  • Monitoring your families health
  • Getting tested if unwell
  • Contact tracing and quarantining
  • Physical distancing
  • Handwashing
  • Wearing a mask indoors
  • Using exposure notification apps
  • Staying home when possible

Watch the video above for my full conversation with Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti about what fall means for the coronavirus.

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