How to protect yourself from COVID-19 as Ontario starts to reopen

News May 19, 2020 by Torstar staff ,  May Warren Toronto.com

We’re really ready to be done with COVID-19 by now. But that doesn’t mean it’s done with us.

After weeks of lockdown, the province is taking its first steps to reopen the economy. And as the public health guidelines start to move from black and white to grey, it's important to note ways to be vigilant and what to look out for.

"Being outdoors is ideal"

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said one general tip that everyone can follow is that being outdoors is better than being indoors when preventing the spread of the virus. 

“Being outdoors is ideal,” Furness said. “If you’re indoors, the more people in a smaller space, the riskier it is,” Furness said. “I’m terrified of elevators.”

That’s because COVID-19 is transferred primarily through droplets expelled when people cough, sneeze, laugh, sing and talk.

Outside there might be a breeze, as opposed to indoors, where if someone coughs they’ll leave a kind of cloud, said Furness.

Bike riding, grocery store visits not risky

In a recent viral blog post, Erin S. Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, wrote that he regularly hears people worrying about getting COVID-19 from bike rides, the grocery store and runners passing them on the street.

“Are these places of concern? Well, not really,” wrote Bromage, who did not respond to a request for an interview. “Remember the formula: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time.”

Restaurant perks will have to stop

Once eateries open back up to diners, sitting at a restaurant patio will be much safer than being inside, said Andrew Halayko, a University of Manitoba physiology professor who specializes in respiratory illness and environmental pathogens.

Of course, that is, if the restaurant keeps tables six feet away from each other. There also shouldn’t be any shared items on the table, like a water jug or basket of bread.

“There are a lot of things that we take for granted at a restaurant that have to stop,” Halayko added. And “the longer you’re talking, the higher the risk goes.” 

Having guests will require planning

Once Ontarians are permitted to host company in their homes again, Halayko said there are things you can do to cut down on the risk of exposure, including not hugging, sitting outside on the lawn or a porch if possible and not sharing food.

Of course, that gets to the question of bathrooms. An unedited manuscript study of two hospitals in Wuhan, China found virus particles, possibly from fecal matter after flushing, in the air.

But it didn’t prove those particles were infectious. So the science is still not settled, but there are a lot of surfaces in a bathroom – from toilet seats to flushers, to sinks and door handles – where the virus could be lurking.

“Practise really good hand hygiene – you want to be mindful,” said Furness.

Hair, nail salons will need to make services safer

Ontario is not ready to open hair salons and spas just yet, but some owners are already thinking about ways to keep customers and employees safe, including wearing face masks or face shields and limiting the number of people inside.

Nail or hair salons may also consider the Plexiglas barriers already seen at grocery stores, said Victoria Arrandale, an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, as a way to “maintain the physical distance that allows them to operate.”

That can make things “safer – we can’t guarantee safe anywhere,” she said.

Employers in office settings will need to make judgments

Employers in office settings should think about “who absolutely needs to be present” even if they’re allowed to reopen, Arrandale said.

“Basically, as the work closures are loosened and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments,” wrote Bromage in his blog.

How to protect yourself from COVID-19 as Ontario starts to reopen

News May 19, 2020 by Torstar staff ,  May Warren Toronto.com

We’re really ready to be done with COVID-19 by now. But that doesn’t mean it’s done with us.

After weeks of lockdown, the province is taking its first steps to reopen the economy. And as the public health guidelines start to move from black and white to grey, it's important to note ways to be vigilant and what to look out for.

"Being outdoors is ideal"

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said one general tip that everyone can follow is that being outdoors is better than being indoors when preventing the spread of the virus. 

“Being outdoors is ideal,” Furness said. “If you’re indoors, the more people in a smaller space, the riskier it is,” Furness said. “I’m terrified of elevators.”

That’s because COVID-19 is transferred primarily through droplets expelled when people cough, sneeze, laugh, sing and talk.

Outside there might be a breeze, as opposed to indoors, where if someone coughs they’ll leave a kind of cloud, said Furness.

Bike riding, grocery store visits not risky

In a recent viral blog post, Erin S. Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, wrote that he regularly hears people worrying about getting COVID-19 from bike rides, the grocery store and runners passing them on the street.

“Are these places of concern? Well, not really,” wrote Bromage, who did not respond to a request for an interview. “Remember the formula: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time.”

Restaurant perks will have to stop

Once eateries open back up to diners, sitting at a restaurant patio will be much safer than being inside, said Andrew Halayko, a University of Manitoba physiology professor who specializes in respiratory illness and environmental pathogens.

Of course, that is, if the restaurant keeps tables six feet away from each other. There also shouldn’t be any shared items on the table, like a water jug or basket of bread.

“There are a lot of things that we take for granted at a restaurant that have to stop,” Halayko added. And “the longer you’re talking, the higher the risk goes.” 

Having guests will require planning

Once Ontarians are permitted to host company in their homes again, Halayko said there are things you can do to cut down on the risk of exposure, including not hugging, sitting outside on the lawn or a porch if possible and not sharing food.

Of course, that gets to the question of bathrooms. An unedited manuscript study of two hospitals in Wuhan, China found virus particles, possibly from fecal matter after flushing, in the air.

But it didn’t prove those particles were infectious. So the science is still not settled, but there are a lot of surfaces in a bathroom – from toilet seats to flushers, to sinks and door handles – where the virus could be lurking.

“Practise really good hand hygiene – you want to be mindful,” said Furness.

Hair, nail salons will need to make services safer

Ontario is not ready to open hair salons and spas just yet, but some owners are already thinking about ways to keep customers and employees safe, including wearing face masks or face shields and limiting the number of people inside.

Nail or hair salons may also consider the Plexiglas barriers already seen at grocery stores, said Victoria Arrandale, an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, as a way to “maintain the physical distance that allows them to operate.”

That can make things “safer – we can’t guarantee safe anywhere,” she said.

Employers in office settings will need to make judgments

Employers in office settings should think about “who absolutely needs to be present” even if they’re allowed to reopen, Arrandale said.

“Basically, as the work closures are loosened and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments,” wrote Bromage in his blog.

How to protect yourself from COVID-19 as Ontario starts to reopen

News May 19, 2020 by Torstar staff ,  May Warren Toronto.com

We’re really ready to be done with COVID-19 by now. But that doesn’t mean it’s done with us.

After weeks of lockdown, the province is taking its first steps to reopen the economy. And as the public health guidelines start to move from black and white to grey, it's important to note ways to be vigilant and what to look out for.

"Being outdoors is ideal"

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, said one general tip that everyone can follow is that being outdoors is better than being indoors when preventing the spread of the virus. 

“Being outdoors is ideal,” Furness said. “If you’re indoors, the more people in a smaller space, the riskier it is,” Furness said. “I’m terrified of elevators.”

That’s because COVID-19 is transferred primarily through droplets expelled when people cough, sneeze, laugh, sing and talk.

Outside there might be a breeze, as opposed to indoors, where if someone coughs they’ll leave a kind of cloud, said Furness.

Bike riding, grocery store visits not risky

In a recent viral blog post, Erin S. Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, wrote that he regularly hears people worrying about getting COVID-19 from bike rides, the grocery store and runners passing them on the street.

“Are these places of concern? Well, not really,” wrote Bromage, who did not respond to a request for an interview. “Remember the formula: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time.”

Restaurant perks will have to stop

Once eateries open back up to diners, sitting at a restaurant patio will be much safer than being inside, said Andrew Halayko, a University of Manitoba physiology professor who specializes in respiratory illness and environmental pathogens.

Of course, that is, if the restaurant keeps tables six feet away from each other. There also shouldn’t be any shared items on the table, like a water jug or basket of bread.

“There are a lot of things that we take for granted at a restaurant that have to stop,” Halayko added. And “the longer you’re talking, the higher the risk goes.” 

Having guests will require planning

Once Ontarians are permitted to host company in their homes again, Halayko said there are things you can do to cut down on the risk of exposure, including not hugging, sitting outside on the lawn or a porch if possible and not sharing food.

Of course, that gets to the question of bathrooms. An unedited manuscript study of two hospitals in Wuhan, China found virus particles, possibly from fecal matter after flushing, in the air.

But it didn’t prove those particles were infectious. So the science is still not settled, but there are a lot of surfaces in a bathroom – from toilet seats to flushers, to sinks and door handles – where the virus could be lurking.

“Practise really good hand hygiene – you want to be mindful,” said Furness.

Hair, nail salons will need to make services safer

Ontario is not ready to open hair salons and spas just yet, but some owners are already thinking about ways to keep customers and employees safe, including wearing face masks or face shields and limiting the number of people inside.

Nail or hair salons may also consider the Plexiglas barriers already seen at grocery stores, said Victoria Arrandale, an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, as a way to “maintain the physical distance that allows them to operate.”

That can make things “safer – we can’t guarantee safe anywhere,” she said.

Employers in office settings will need to make judgments

Employers in office settings should think about “who absolutely needs to be present” even if they’re allowed to reopen, Arrandale said.

“Basically, as the work closures are loosened and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments,” wrote Bromage in his blog.