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Peter Klein and Kim Carson are pictured on March 11, 2020 on the balcony of their apartment in Calgary, where they have been in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 virus since returning from Japan.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

As the coronavirus spreads across the country, daily life for some Canadians is being transformed. The effects of the pandemic are not just challenging those in self-quarantine to find ways to pass the time and having an impact on public gatherings, but are also inspiring individuals to help in the effort to stop the spread of the virus.

What can I do to stay safe from COVID-19?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread through airborne droplets by coughing or sneezing, through touching a surface those droplets have touched, or through personal contact with infected people.

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly

The World Health Organization recommends regular hand-washing and physical distancing – that is, keeping at least two metres from someone with a cough. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose if you can.

The CDC says to frequently clean dirty surfaces with soap and water before disinfecting them.

  • If you show symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical attention and do what your health-care provider recommends. That may include staying home from work or school and getting lots of rest until the symptoms go away.

COVID-19 is much more serious for older adults. As a precaution, older adults should continue frequent and thorough hand-washing, and avoid exposure to people with respiratory symptoms.

Check the WHO’s information page for more details on the virus, and The Globe and Mail’s guide of what health officials say is helpful for the public to do or not do about it.

Need more answers? Email audience@globeandmail.com

Self-isolation

“It’s strange. I’ve never been told, ‘Don’t come to work because it might be dangerous for those around you,’ ” says Peter Klein, a 30-year-old who has been in self-isolation with his wife in their Calgary apartment since coming home from their honeymoon in Japan nearly two weeks ago.

Both their employers – Mr. Klein works for Sportsnet 960, his wife is a promotions co-ordinator for another radio station – told them to self-quarantine when they returned from their trip.

The only time Mr. Klein has left his 800-square-foot apartment since then has been to grocery shop. He always goes at non-peak hours.

“Any time you leave the apartment you feel guilty. I get quite a bit of anxiety any time I leave here because I feel fine but I don’t know if I’m fine and I don’t know if I’m giving something to someone,” he says.

He and his wife are both able to work from home. In the evenings they’ll watch a movie. The other night his wife made cupcakes.

“We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible,” Mr. Klein says. But, he says, the experience is “a bit of a mind mess.” He’s bored, and it’s hard not to have cabin fever at times.

What is he looking forward to when his two-week isolation period is over this weekend?

“I’m probably just going to go for a two-hour walk to get some fresh air,” Mr. Klein says.

- Dave McGinn

Isolation 4 Love

A group of volunteers called Isolation 4 Love is helping people in Edmonton in the hopes of reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Our enemy is not the people, it’s the virus,” says Michelle Zhang, a 44-year-old financial planner who is one of the group’s volunteers.

The group arranges transportation home from the Edmonton airport and will even deliver groceries to anyone who wants to self-isolate and reaches out to them on social media.

“If someone says, ‘Hey, I need a toothbrush or toilet paper,’ we can pick that up,” Ms. Zhang says.

Groceries and other items are dropped off at the door with a receipt in the bag, and the recipient sends an eTransfer to cover the cost, thereby avoiding any contact with the volunteers.

So far the group has helped more than 100 people since starting Feb. 1.

“We want to reduce the contact for everyone potentially carrying the virus,” Ms. Zhang says.

- Dave McGinn

Family doctor

For Nadia Alam, a family doctor in Georgetown, Ont., the arrival of the novel coronavirus has meant scrambling to get supplies that are often on back order. It has also meant warning patients to stay away if they have a cough and fever, the telltale symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

It’s a tricky message for patients who are used to turning to their family doctors first when they get sick. But Dr. Alam said it’s critical that patients who think they have the coronavirus call a public-health hotline first and get screened over the phone, otherwise they risk forcing Dr. Alam and her colleagues to temporarily shutter an office that serves 7,000 patients in the town west of Toronto.

“If a patient came in, coughed all over the place [and later tested positive for COVID-19] we would actually have to shut down for 14 days and be isolated,” Dr. Alam said. “That’s why so many family doctors are working so hard to get information out.” In the meantime, Dr. Alam’s office is offering paper surgical masks to patients with a cough, a precaution the office has been taking since long before the rise of the coronavirus.

- Kelly Grant

Theatre

Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 started to truly affect Canada’s theatre companies on Thursday when Quebec Premier François Legault ordered all indoor events with more than 250 people to be cancelled.

Up to that point, theatres in the rest of Canada, from the Arts Club in Vancouver to the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown, were reporting they had not seen a significant impact on ticket sales – and that they were adding additional sanitation measures in lobbies, bathrooms and theatres. The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre was enjoying a sell-out final week of Frances Koncan’s satirical history play Women of the Fur Trade – while offering audience members the opportunity to exchange their tickets for March performances if they were feeling unwell.

At the tourist-oriented Shaw Festival, a small uptick in ticket sales over the past few weeks was even observed. “I suspect the quieter, small-town nature of Niagara-on-the-Lake has been a draw for people looking for a closer summer getaway as their plans for travel have changed,” executive director Tim Jennings said. But, he cautioned, “the situation is in a constant state of flux.”

- J. Kelly Nestruck

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