Coronavirus / COVID-19 – What you need to know

covid19-coronavirus

Updates

Critical news is rounded up under headings for the date it was posted. Other news can be found further down the page (to jump to this section, click here)

March 30

Ontario emergency order puts seniors in long-term care at risk

CARP is deeply concerned that a recent emergency order by the Government of Ontario in response to COVID-19 could place seniors in long-term care at serious risk. Recent reports suggest that the order removes restrictions on hiring practices.  This opens the potential for unqualified staff who lack the expertise or credentials needed to work with seniors in long-term care, to cause further harm to one of our most vulnerable populations.

Read CARP’s full statement

$9 million in community supports for seniors announced by federal government

Trudeau has announced additional funding for seniors affected by COVID-19, to be delivered via United Way Canada. At this time, the government has not announced direct financial supports for these seniors, but says they are currently “looking carefully” at other measures to support Canada’s older population.

Read more

March 27

We’ve posted our 2nd COVID-19 information town hall, which brought together thousands of our Members and leading medical experts to address the concerns and questions of Canada’s older adults. View the video now.

March 26

All COVID-19 financial supports that have been announced so far

Many of our Members have expressed concern over the financial hardships they are experiencing, or are worried they will experience, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve compiled a list of all currently announced financial supports available to seniors

Critical update for Snowbirds returning to Canada

Starting today, anyone returning to Canada will now be forced to quarantine for 14 days, under the Quarantine Act, whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus. The federal government has announced strict legal penalties for anyone who violates these new sanctions, including fines of up to $1 million and jail time.

Find out more

Additional financial supports for seniors

There have been additional measures announced to support seniors affected by COVID-19 and the resulting economic effects that continue to mount during the pandemic.

Low income seniors in Ontario will see their Guaranteed Annual Income System payments double for 6 months

Working seniors suffering wage or job loss will qualify for the new COVID-19 benefits program

March 25

In Canada, half of the more than 2,584 cases are now related to community spread, as opposed to travel or close contact with someone who has travelled, says Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

About 90 per cent of new infections in the last week were not related to travel.

It’s incredibly important to practice social distancing and proper hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially to those who are more vulnerable to extreme health risk, like seniors.

If you’re not feeling well, self-isolate immediately and monitor your symptoms. Learn how to protect yourself and others here.

Not feeling well? Worried you might have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19?

Take the latest self-assessment for coronavirus (Ontario adapted its assessment from the one being used by Alberta)

Confused about when/if to wear a mask for protection?

With supplies of medical masks dwindling, the medical community is struggling to protect front-line workers with the equipment necessary to continue working as safely as possible. Consumers stockpiling masks for personal use is contributing to the problem, and health officials are urging the healthy younger general public to prioritize practicing social distancing over wearing masks.

Who should wear a mask and when? This video explains.

Are there exceptions where healthy people should wear masks in public?

Maybe. In a recent article in the Lancet, researchers led by Elaine Shuo Feng, a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Oxford Vaccine Group, suggested it would be “rational” to recommend wearing face masks in public to:

  • Healthy people in quarantine (or self-isolation) if they need to leave home for any reason.
  • Vulnerable people, such as older adults, and those with underlying medical conditions.

Gardam said while wearing a mask makes “zero sense” while walking down the street, there is a logic to using one if you’re forced to be in an enclosed space, such as public transit or a crowded grocery store (although many grocery stores are now limiting the number of customers inside).

March 23

Today, CARP hosted a second COVID-19 town hall, inviting over 10,000 of our Members to join the conversation with medical experts via phone. 

Income support for seniors

As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada is reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan. Read more.

Reaching out to isolated seniors

Seniors are most likely to suffer the worst effects of social isolation, especially at this critical time. Learn how to best reach out and help older people in your community.

March 19

CARP hosted an emergency town hall to educate our members on the coronavirus outbreak and how to best protect themselves and their families


Other recent stories from Governments:

View the current number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, by province/territory

Important Information

The following information comes directly from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and is updated frequently:

You can also stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak at Everything Zoomer.

Overview

There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for Canadians:

  • aged 65 and over
  • with compromised immune systems
  • with underlying medical conditions

As our members often fall within these categories, CARP is keeping a close eye on developments so that we can communicate them as necessary. We also want to provide links to critical and current information to keep you and your loved ones safe.

While a COVID-19 outbreak is not unexpected in Canada, public health departments have indicated that they are prepared to respond. PHAC, along with provincial, territorial and community partners, continue to reassess the public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.

In order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, everyone has a role to play. It takes more than governments and action from the health sector to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Each of us can help our country be prepared in the event of an emergency by understanding how coronavirus spreads and how to prevent illness.

Canadians should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of any illness, especially respiratory infections.

Now and always during cold and flu season, stay home if you are sick. Encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change how you greet one another. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave or elbow bump is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practise frequent hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys and door handles.

These are the most important ways that you can protect yourself and your family from respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

Make A Plan

If COVID-19 becomes common in your community, you will want to have thought about how to change your behaviours and routines to reduce the risk of infection.

Your plan should include how you can change your regular habits to reduce your exposure to crowded places. For example, you may:

  • do your grocery shopping at off-peak hours
  • commute by public transit outside of the busy rush hour
  • opt to exercise outdoors instead of in an indoor fitness class

Your plan should also include what you will do if you become sick. If you are a caregiver of children or other dependents, you will want to have thought ahead to engage backup caregivers.

You should also think about what you will do if a member of your family becomes sick and needs care. Talk to your employer about working from home if you are needed to care for a family member at home.

If you, yourself, become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Employers should not require a sick leave note as that will put added pressure on limited health care services.

Your plan should include shopping for supplies that you should have on hand at all times. This will ensure you do not need to leave your home while you are sick or busy caring for an ill family member.

Your plan should build on the kits you have prepared for other potential emergencies. For more information on how to prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency, please visit GetPrepared.ca.

Refill Your Prescriptions

Refill your prescriptions now so that you do not have to go to a busy pharmacy if you do become sick. Consider seeing your health care provider to renew your prescriptions ahead of time.

Stock Up On Essentials But Avoid Panic Buying

At this time, it makes sense to fill your cupboards with non-perishable food items, so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick.

People are encouraged to gradually build up their household stores instead of making large-scale purchases all at once. To do this, you can add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. Good options are easy-to-prepare foods like:

  • dried pasta and sauce
  • prepared canned soups
  • canned vegetables and beans

It is also a good idea to have extra stores of:

  • pet food
  • toilet paper
  • facial tissue
  • feminine hygiene products
  • incontinence products or diapers (if you have children your home)

The reason for stocking up on these items is not necessarily because you will need to self-isolate. Having these supplies on hand will ensure you do not need to leave your home at the peak of the outbreak or if you become ill.

How To Care For Those Who Are Ill

If you or a member of your family become(s) ill with COVID-19, there are precautions that should be taken in the home. Your health care provider will advise you if hospital care is more appropriate. Refer to the guidance for health professionals when caring for someone with COVID-19 in a hospital setting.

To prepare for this potential situation, you should have on hand:

  • soap
  • facial tissue
  • paper towels
  • alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • household cleaning products
  • regular detergents for washing dishes and doing laundry
  • fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • this includes products for children if you are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver
  • plastic garbage bags for containing soiled tissues and other waste
  • household bleach for creating a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to disinfect surfaces

Get Reliable Information

Make sure that you get high-quality information about COVID-19 from reliable sources. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial public health authorities.

Communicate With Family, Friends and Neighbours

Let your family, friends and neighbours know that you are making plans to prepare for COVID-19. Share your plan with them, as this might motivate them to make their own.

Talk to them about a buddy system in which you agree to check in on each other and run essential errands if you become sick.

This information has been republished from the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada. (PHAC)

Precautions For Those Who Are Traveling

There are several active travel health notices for COVID-19. Each country or area may have different levels of risk. These risk levels may change as the COVID-19 event evolves internationally.

Before you leave, check travel.gc.ca for the most current list of travel destinations that have travel health notices for COVID-19.

The source content for the information above was obtained from the Public Health Agency of Canada.