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Exclusive: Doctor breaks down importance of social distancing, sanitizing, and scheduling amid COVID-19 crisis

Woman in white dress shirt using white microscope, Image: Anna Shvets, Pexels

The COVID-19 crisis has caused global concern as the world’s leading healthcare providers and politicians race against the clock to find a cure for this formerly unknown virus. In times of great fear and uncertainty, it can feel nearly impossible to go about our daily lives and act normally, especially when each day brings new changes that affect us drastically. 

Not to mention, it’s incredibly important to know where you’re getting your information from. With a surplus of news surrounding the coronavirus, we often are absorbing conflicting reports and have trouble deciphering between what’s right, what’s exaggerated, and what couldn’t be further from the truth. 

To help clarify concerns, we spoke with Dr. Joyce Park, board certified dermatologist, for the quick facts you need to know in order to stay healthy, hygienic, and as happy as possible during these crazy times.

What does it mean to participate in social distancing, and how/why do actions such as social distancing help slow the spread of the virus?

Social distancing is a public health measure to prevent sick people from spreading disease to healthy people. In terms of COVID-19, the CDC defines social distancing as maintaining 6 feet or 2 meters away from other people whenever possible. By limiting contact between people, we limit and slow down the spreading of the virus.

How can people keep their lives as normal as possible right now? Is it important to maintain a routine, go on walks, etc.? What are some suggestions to maintain productivity?

I suggest keeping to a schedule; a lot of people are working from home right now and it can be hard to maintain productivity. Set up a schedule to wake up at a certain time, keep blocks of time reserved for work, schedule in time for breaks to take walks or a coffee break and lunch, etc.

How often should you be sanitising and washing your hands?

You should be washing your hands or sanitising them everytime you touch potentially infected surfaces, after visiting public spaces or using public transportation, everytime you cough or sneeze, and especially after coming into contact with anyone who is potentially sick.

What kind of surfaces can the virus live on, and for how long?

Hot off the press, a new study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine this week sharing that the virus can be detectable in the air for up to 3 hours, up to 1 day on cardboard, up to 4 hours on copper, and up to 2-3 days on stainless steel and plastic.

What are the current concerns medical professionals have in terms of hospital capacity?

We are deeply concerned about the ability of our hospitals to handle the number of rapidly growing cases of COVID-19 in our communities. The sickest COVID patients need ventilators, machines that help them breathe when their lungs are infected and cannot function normally. 

However, there are not enough ventilators to meet the need if the virus continues to spread exponentially as it has been doing. That is why we are advocating for "flattening the curve," so that we don't overwhelm hospitals all at once, causing a huge shortage of equipment that is necessary to save patients' lives.

All things said and done, take this time to be selfless. This isn’t about you, it’s about us. Heed your government’s advice, protect thy neighbour, and try and live as normally as possible. We will get through this. Keep calm, and carry on!

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