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COVID-19: advice from a pharmacist and traveling mother

To the point Audrey, pharmacist, mom, and traveler who uses points & miles, reminds you of essential advice in this time of COVID-19.

Covid-19

In this article, I share with you the actions taken by our government in the current Coronavirus crisis, as well as useful links and recommendations to protect each other.

Although I am a pharmacist by profession, in this article I do not give any pharmaceutical or medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, consult your doctor, pharmacist and other health care professionals. The Ordre des Pharmaciens du Québec (OPQ) is not associated with this article. You can find all OPQ information on COVID-19 on this page.

A few figures

While there were 441 contaminated cases (including 1 death) out of 24 countries as of February 12, 2020 (excluding China), this figure has climbed to more than

  • 44,000 people in 117 countries as of 12 March, 2020, resulting in 1,440 deaths (310 new) (excluding China)
  • then to 86,434 people on March 16, 2020, resulting in 3,388 deaths (848 new) affecting 151 countries/territories according to the WHO.

Figures that should frighten and encourage everyone to take the measures seriously.

Especially since the figures are certainly biased, since they are based only on the number of people tested. It is difficult to really know the full results of this health crisis, which could well be double or worse than announced.

Covid 19 Map 17 March 2020
Credit: Johns Hopkins University

In fact

COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, small droplets containing the virus are sprayed onto people or surrounding surfaces.

It is therefore essential that sick people cover their mouth or nose with the fold of their elbow or a handkerchief (which will be thrown away immediately afterwards) and wash their hands as frequently as possible.

Contamination can occur through breathing in contaminated droplets and contact of hands on the face previously contaminated with surfaces where the virus is present.

So everyone becomes a potential carrier!

Covid 19 Recommendations Quebec

Our Government's Actions

Countries are finally starting to issue a public health policy. It must be followed by EVERYONE in order to stop this pandemic. Don’t they say that united we stand, divided we fall?

Now that the virus is circulating in most countries, the aim is to “flatten the curve“. The whole issue here is to slow down the dynamics of the COVID-19 epidemic in order to protect our health systems from overheating. On this subject, I advise you this Pharmachien article, which explains the situation perfectly.

Here are the main directives issued by the Government of Quebec site, which is currently more active than the Government of Canada.

Isolation

Thus, the issue of isolation is no longer relevant: isolation is voluntary for all, but mandatory for all public service employees and for all health, education and childcare personnel, private and public, returning from abroad on or after March 12, 2020.

For anyone going into isolation, remember that you must not:

  • use public transport
  • go out in public
  • welcome visitors to your home

Gatherings

Avoid unnecessary indoor gatherings even if there are only 50 people.

Elders

Non-essential visits to health care institutions, seniors’ residences and others throughout Quebec should be avoided.

People aged 70 and over are encouraged to stay at home, but can still go out for an important medical appointment, take a walk or get food while respecting health rules.

People at risk

The people most at risk for complications are:

  • immunocompromised people
  • people with chronic diseases
  • the elderly
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Sanitary measures

Hygiene

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds, ideally with soap or a hydro-alcoholic solution, and as frequently as possible to kill any virus that may be present.
  • Avoid putting your hands on your face (eyes, nose, mouth).
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than into the air, or into your hands, or into a tissue that will be thrown immediately into a trash can.
  • Wear a mask only if you are ill and do not exacerbate the current shortage of personal protective equipment needed by health care professionals.
  • Wash doorknobs, kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, remote controls, keyboards, telephones and other appliances, and any other areas that may have been touched more frequently at home. Remember to clean the handles and steering wheel of your car.
  • Taking a hot bath is a common misconception that won’t protect you from the virus!

To put an end to misconceptions about COVID-19 and false news, please see this page.

In pharmacies

  • If you experience symptoms such as a cough or fever, call 1-877-644-4545 and the hospital will be notified. The line is very busy, so do not call for information about the virus. Hydrate regularly, gargle and clean your nose to clear your airways if necessary, and ask your pharmacist for advice on which behind-the-counter treatment would be right for you.
  • Come to the clinic only if you have an appointment and go to the emergency room if you have breathing difficulties. Consider the potential for contamination of other people.
  • Renew your prescriptions by phone as much as possible. Your pharmacist can offer you a delivery service so you don’t have to go anywhere, the delivery people have clear procedures to follow. Storing more could lead to a risk of stock-outs that could be dangerous for some patients!
  • If your prescriptions have expired, call your pharmacist first to see if an extension might be allowed in your case rather than going to your doctor.
  • Do not use antibiotics (which have no effect on viruses) or self-medicated anti-inflammatory drugs if you suspect a COVID-19 infection or other respiratory virosis, as this could lead to serious complications, unless recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • The Collège des médecins and the Ordre des pharmaciens have relaxed certain rules since March 16:
    • Pharmacists in Quebec will be able to extend prescriptions for periods that go beyond the statutory periods.
    • They will also be able to prescribe drugs for all minor conditions with a four-year interval between the initial diagnosis by the physician and the prescription by the pharmacist.
    • Finally, the pharmacist will no longer be obliged to provide a physician with information regarding the extension, adjustment or substitution of a drug unless a physician requests it.

These measures are aimed at reducing the number of medical consultations as much as possible.

Outdoors

  • Pay with a credit card, contactless, as much as possible in order to limit the exchange of money from hand to hand.
  • Shop online for groceries so you can have what you need at home. No reason to overstock.
  • Make sure the elders you know have everything they need at home and call them regularly to check in on them, being more isolated.
  • Limit family and business travel and gatherings as much as possible. Birthdays and other holidays will have to wait.
  • Use disinfectant wipes to disinfect any potentially contaminated objects, surfaces or areas.
  • Favour teleworking
  • Use telephone or video conferencing rather than outside appointments.
  • Avoid handshakes or hugs and wave or nod.
  • Avoid close contact with people other than your family, or keep at least 1 metre away from a person if they show flu-like symptoms (cough, fever or sneezing).
  • In pharmacies, clinics and other practices, avoid touching magazines if they are present.

It is not forbidden to get some air. But avoid ALL CONTACT with other people.

Travelling

  • If you become ill while travelling, consult a doctor promptly and indicate the trips you have taken.
  • If you have to fly and you have symptoms, inform the crew to see how you might be isolated. Don’t hide your symptoms.
  • In hotels, wash your hands after using an elevator, touching a handle, a counter or buffet cutlery.
  • Try to put your hands on surfaces as little as possible and clean them beforehand with suitable antiseptic wipes if necessary.
  • Avoid air-conditioned areas so as not to get sick.
  • Avoid crowds and crowded tourist areas
  • The virus can also be transmitted in hot and humid climates! Travelling south will therefore not protect you from becoming infected. If there are fewer apparent cases in the countries around Ecuador, it is probably because there is less testing!
Breakfast 1663295 1280

With the children

It is difficult to make young children aware of the serious health problem we are stuck in. We see it every day with our children. They LOVE to put their hands everywhere, roll around on the floor, put everything in their mouths, pick up lost and found.

It is your duty as parents to explain them why hygiene is all the more important now since we will have to follow the routine several times a day. And you are their role models: show them the right habits to adopt so that they imitate you.

Some ideas and recommendations :

  • When you wash your hands, remember to ask them to come with you to wash theirs. If you have a baby or young child, clean their face regularly.
  • Try to wash their hands before/after meals, outings and games in their room.
  • Try to wash the most frequently used games regularly, as well as gloves and mittens.
  • Make them aware of bacteria and viruses, with books to read on the subject, arts and crafts and colouring activities. There are lots of ideas on educatout.com.
  • Why not print a child-friendly reminder to clean their hands to hang in the bathroom?
  • Involve them in cleaning tasks in an appropriate manner. What kid has never wanted to hold a broom or a vacuum cleaner?
  • Clean fruits and vegetables together and explain why.
  • Make a game of it by asking them to walk around with their hands folded behind their backs.
  • Avoid outdoor areas where you might meet the children’s friends: they will want to play together.
  • When travelling, keep their hands busy, if you are outside: a banana to hold, a game so they can’t touch other surfaces directly.
  • Finally, if you can, buy a new game: it will keep them busy at home! That’s what we did in Singapore before returning to Montreal:
enfants lego

Invite others to apply these measures so that this crisis is not minimized and is over! Feel free to share this article.

Do we still have to travel?

What the government says

The Government of Canada has issued an official travel advisory asking travellers to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. This notice includes cruise trips.

Namely

From Wednesday March 18, 2020 at noon, the borders will be closed to all those who are not citizens or permanent residents. Aircrew, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian and American citizens will be exempt.

Those who were in Canada on a permit have until that date to re-enter the country.

Canadian passengers abroad with symptoms could be denied boarding to return home.

Canadian passengers abroad should inquire about their business options for returning to Canada. For more information, find this article for travellers and temporary residents abroad.

Canada Travellers Warning March 13, 2020

Your decision

This decision is up to you alone in view of all the elements to be taken into account. No one can decide for you.

We can only recommend that you return home, avoid and postpone any travel that could be in the areas most affected by the virus, especially if you are a person at risk.

Finally, you may end up on a different trip than you would have planned, as some tourist areas have been deserted.

If you’re already abroad and plan to stay where you are:

  • Make sure that you have the necessary supplies (financial resources, medicines, food) for a sufficient period of time and that the rules of hygiene and isolation are respected,
  • Find out about the situation in the country you are in and respect its measures (you may be asked to leave as a foreigner)
  • Declare your presence abroad by registering on the list of Canadians Abroad.
  • Check that your insurance still covers you properly

This last point is particularly important: most insurance companies amended existing insurance contracts following the Government of Canada’s announcement of March 13, 2020, by giving a 10-day delay to return home. After this period, the insurance won’t be valid. For example, here is a note sent by RSA Group to its customers:

If a travel advisory is issued after departure, medical coverage for that location is limited to a period of 10 days from the date of the travel advisory or formal notice was issued, or to a period that is reasonably necessary for you to safely evacuate the country, region or area.

RSA Group

Jean-Maximilien made a very clear reminder on this point in his last article.

Abroad, you are only a “foreigner”: a country will seek above all to protect and care for its own citizens. That is also why Canada is urging you to return home now.

semaine – – bali-kuta –

What about my points and miles?

In view of the situation, the airlines have put in place clear guidelines as to what is or is not refundable. It is up to everyone to contact these parties to find out what the situation is.

While you wait to travel, re-evaluate your goals in the short-medium-long term to find out which cards would be the most advantageous and suitable for you. Maybe the next tour will be all about cash back!

Jean-Maximilien will soon be doing articles on this subject: we are clearly entering a period of earning rather than redeeming!

As far as flight bookings are concerned, Aeroplan is not the easiest to contact at the moment, we must admit!

Are you traveling in a few months and want to cancel? Wait a little longer, the situation is complex and no one knows how it will develop further. Patience is golden. Especially since you will be helping other travellers for whom time is running out!

Is your flight scheduled in the next few hours or days? Chances are Aeroplan will find a solution for you in no time at all, at least after waiting a few hours to reach them. Feel free to contact them through Facebook or Twitter private messaging. Mention only simple information such as file number, date of travel and a phone number to reach you.

As for hotels, expect to be able to get a refund if you booked directly with them.

You may not be able to travel in the next few weeks or months, but let’s be positive, once the situation is back to normal, life will start again and you will be able to travel the world again with the points and miles you earned during this crisis!

semaine – -srville—

Measures taken by milesopedia and its members

Some will take the opportunity to continue their activities, business as usual, whether it is to travel – even within Canada – or to continue living as if nothing had happened.

Like you, we are very concerned and upset about this situation. We care about the health of our community and have decided to postpone our March 21 event until later this spring or summer due to the rapid evolution of COVID-19 around the world. We will of course keep you informed of the new date chosen for our future meeting!

We have set up a dedicated topic in the milesopedia community to help travellers. This is in addition to the many articles we have written about the situation to help you.

Finally, we cancelled the presence of one of the milesopedia representatives for the opening of Air Canada’s Signature Suite in Vancouver in order to avoid any risk of contamination for our colleague and friend, as the event was surprisingly not postponed.

We encourage all of you to respect all the measures taken by the Government of Canada and Quebec now if you have not already done so.

Important links

Here are some links with essential information.

Health, safety and labour standards

 

Travel

If you or a loved one has recently travelled and are experiencing symptoms such as coughing, fever or breathing difficulties, contact a health care professional at

1 877 644-4545

Articles from milesopedia

 

Information on COVID-19

For any information about the virus, you can call 1 833 784-4397 which is the Government of Canada’s information line.

If you or someone else is experiencing stress, anxiety, psychosis or other feelings, contact Psychosocial Counselling Services at 811. These feelings are completely normal and may even lead to trauma in some people.

My opinion on this crisis

Countries are going to have to show a lot of prowess in order to demonstrate their ability to manage the crisis. But once this virus has passed, we will have to face the tolls, which may not be pretty to see. The stock markets have collapsed and are still falling. How many companies are going to have to revise their targets and lay off people? A recession may be coming, what do we know? Nothing.

Phew, I can’t even begin to imagine… there might be a real upheaval in the working world to get the machines going again. This virus messes with some people’s minds that nothing is safe.

Evil for good? This will cause travellers to review both their travel plans and how they book trips.

It’s certain that many more travelers will consider choosing a credit card that offers excellent insurance and will no longer book off-site. How many travellers have been caught by a ball being passed back and forth between different intermediaries (online travel agencies/airlines) after shopping for their plane tickets on a discount airline?

Or others will now prefer to go through a travel agent to benefit from the coverage offered in Quebec.

In the end, perhaps this crisis will lead us to visit destinations closer to home.

Moreover, nothing says that a rebound is not to be expected. Once everyone’s quarantines are over, who says the curve couldn’t get back to a more alarming situation? A crisis has passed but there is still a long way to go to learn more about this virus, its origin, prevention and treatment, with the concern that a new crisis could start again next year or even earlier.

We see it every day, isolation is not easy for thousands of people, but some get creative to overcome loneliness or lack of outdoor activities. Take example and take advantage of this time to tackle your list of to-do’s!

We’re checking in on you in the Facebook group.

For more information on COVID-19 , see the updated report: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Let us reflect on this crisis and fight together so that we can get back to our pre-crisis routines quickly.

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