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Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), a respiratory infection.

Taking simple actions such as washing your hands frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick will help protect the spread of COVID-19, especially to vulnerable populations.

Symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing may take up to 14 days to appear.

If you've recently traveled outside the country and experience non-specific symptoms (such as headache, congestion, achiness, feeling unwell) you should separate yourself from others and stay home to monitor yourself.

Should these symptoms progress to include fever or cough, you should:

  • immediately call Tele-Care 811;
  • describe your symptoms and travel history; and
  • follow any instructions carefully.

COVID-19: Mask Information

One more way we can prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is to wear a mask.

Entering a Horizon Facility

When entering a Horizon facility, patients and designated visitors are required to wear a mask. You will not be permitted to enter without one - even if you have an appointment.

If you do not wear a mask, you'll be asked to return home and call the department to rebook your appointment. Arrangements for additional precautions, like personal protective equipment and distancing measures for yourself and others during your appointment will be necessary.

Patients and designated visitors to Horizon facilities are encouraged to bring and wear their own masks.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, notify the department in advance of your appointment for further direction.

Horizon facilities are still under visitor restrictions. Read more  here.

Evidence shows that people showing no symptoms or even minimal symptoms can transmit COVID-19. The use of masks helps prevent transmission of COVID-19 by health care workers, patients, and visitors to others.

Please note: wearing a non-medical mask (e.g., homemade cloth mask) or facial covering in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it but can be an additional measure you can take to protect others.

Patients of health clinics, ambulatory care, emergency departments, and designated visitors are encouraged to wear their own mask - either homemade or manufactured. If you don't have one, one will be provided. Patients presenting at the emergency department with potential COVID-19 symptoms, will be provided the appropriate surgical or procedure mask by Horizons staff. 

Horizon staff who have contact with patients or who cannot maintain physical distance will also wear masks. Staff are not permitted to wear homemade masks.

Horizon accepts donations of homemade cloth masks (community masks). Click here for more information on how to donate.

How to Properly Put on and Take Off Masks

To learn how to properly put on and take off these masks, watch this video.

As well, there are step-by-step instructions on How to Wear a Mask with Loops and How to Wear a Mask with Ties available.

Why wear a mask?

Non-medical masks or facial coverings can protect those around you for short periods of time when physical distancing is not possible because:

  • It covers your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces
  • It reduces the chance that others come into contact with your respiratory droplets (similar to how covering your cough with tissues or your sleeve can reduce that chance)

Masks for Pediatric Patients

When arriving at the hospital, the pediatric patient and family member/caregiver will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and contact/travel history, provided a mask, asked to clean their hands and directed to the Outpatient Registration Area.

Patients will continue to wear their mask throughout their entire visit. Depending on the type of procedure, the patient's mask may need to be removed for the provision of care. Immediately following the procedure, the patient will don a mask for the remainder of their hospital visit.

Note: Face masks should not be placed on children younger than two years of age.

Practice good hand hygiene

It's important to continue to take important everyday precautions such as washing your hands often and avoiding touching common surfaces in public places.

There are two effective hand cleaning methods:

  • An alcohol-based hand rub is the preferred method for cleaning your hands;
  • Soap and water must be used when hands are visibly soiled, when an infectious disease is present and after using the washroom.

CMOH Hand Sanitizer

Take care of yourself

Information and speculation about COVID-19 is constant and everywhere. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety. To reduce these feelings, stay informed using credible sources to educate yourself on the facts. Limit your use of social media and instead make a conscious effort to check reputable sources a few times a day, rather than continually scrolling. Keep informed about travel advice and restrictions.

Are you at risk?

Because COVID-19 is a new disease, we are constantly learning more about it. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization, however COVID-19 affects different people in different ways.

Because our immune system naturally becomes weaker as we age, older adults are at risk and should monitor themselves for any signs of illness and seek treatment as soon as possible. Even the common cold or mild flu may worsen quickly. Click here for advice from the Canadian Geriatrics Society. 

For pregnant women, there are several precautions to take to protect against the possibility of becoming ill including staying home and avoiding visitors. There is currently no evidence that suggests pregnant women are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Also, there is currently no evidence that a developing child could be negatively affected by COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

People with medical conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes have an increased risk of illness and hospitalization if they contract COVID-19. Until there is a vaccine, the best thing you can do is protect yourself and others to avoid virus exposure and follow these helpful tips:

  • Do a health check-up. If you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms, call 811 or your family physician or nurse practitioner.
  • Take your prescribed medications. Continue taking your medications and ensure you have enough medications and medical supplies on hand. If you feel unwell, contact your family physician, nurse practitioner, or your health care team.
  • Keep active and eat healthy. Continue to eat well and try to keep active in and around your home while maintaining physical distance from others.
  • Ask for help. Ask family, a neighbour or friend to help with essential errands (e.g., picking up prescriptions, buying groceries) or use a delivery service.

Additional information relating medical conditions and increased COVID-19 risks can be found online the following websites:

Reminder: A heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 if you or someone with you experiences signs of a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest.

Protect others

In some countries, there is rapid and widespread transmission with large numbers of people being ill at the same time. While most cases of COVID-19 cause mild infections, the elderly and those with chronic underlying conditions are most at risk for severe illness.

Without measures to reduce the spread of the virus there can be a dramatic increase of severely ill people who require medical care and hospitalizations within a short period of time. Health care systems may become overloaded.

Here's how you can help reduce the spread of COVID-19:

Avoid others and stay home if you are sick.          

Respect visitor restrictions.

Reduce contact with others.

Consider ways you and your family could change behaviours and routines to reduce your risk of infection if COVID-19 becomes common in your community.

  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Limit your exposure to crowded places. 
  • Refill prescriptions so that you do not have to go to a pharmacy if you do become ill.
  • Shop for extra supplies so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick. 
  • Build on the kits you have prepared for other potential emergencies.
  • Increase social distance between others (ideally to two metres).
  • Encourage people who are ill or those with high-risk medical conditions not to  attend gatherings.
  • Support hand hygiene by providing hand sanitizer dispensers in prominent  locations.
  • Communicate clearly to others about the risks and directing them to our advice on reducing the spread of illness.

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