As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, we have a shared responsibility to inform you and help protect the most vulnerable among us. This new disease that impacts the lungs is easily spread by small droplets through the nose and mouth and can survive on surfaces for a certain amount of time. COVID-19 is more contagious than the seasonal flu. While most of all COVID-19 cases to date are being reported as mild, some people have become seriously (requiring hospitalization) and critically (requiring intensive care) ill. The virus can also result in death. Older populations and people with pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to serious to severe cases of COVID-19.
Are you more at risk?
- 60 years of age and older
- Have cardiovascular (heart) disease
- Have diabetes
- Have chronic (long-term) respiratory (lung) disease
- Have high blood pressure
- Have cancer
- Those who smoke, vape or use water pipes.
What are the most common symptoms?
- High fever
- Shortness of breath
Learn the best way to wash your hands
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When unable to wash hands with soap and water, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. [PDF] via Public Health Agency of Canada.
What should you do if you think you might have COVID-19?
- Take the Government of Saskatchewan’s Self-Assessment Tool
- If you feel ill, self-isolate for two weeks immediately.
- If you have come into contact with someone who is ill or have returned from an international trip, self-isolate for two weeks.
- If you fit the criteria of potential exposure, are exhibiting mild symptoms, and suspect you may have COVID-19, you can obtain a referral to a community testing centre by:
- Calling HealthLine 811
- Calling your local Public Health Communicable Disease Control office
- Calling your family physician
What should people with lung disease do in addition to protect themselves?
- Make sure all your medications are up-to-date and filled.
- Take your prescribed medications as recommended, especially if you take inhaled corticosteroids.
- If you have seasonal asthma and/or allergies and are advised by a health care provider to take additional medications during the spring, it has been recommended to start your medications now.
- Follow your action plan.
- Be extra diligent at avoiding your triggers.
- Check out these videos by Dr. Erika Penz, from the University of Saskatchewan. (March 28th, 2020)
Mental & physical well-being during a pandemic
Tips for mental and physical well-being during a pandemic [PDF] by the Canadian Lung Association.
Top 5 tips for a healthy mind
- Maintain perspective - It can be a tough time that can awaken anxiety in many of us. When you feel anxious, take a few deep breaths. It’s important to remember that this will pass. And remember: we have some of the best minds working on a solution every day.
- Limit media intake - It’s important to keep up-to-date with news, but don’t let the 24/7 news cycle control your life. Know when to switch off. Repeated exposure can increase feelings of anxiety.
- Choose reliable media outlets - There is a lot of information out there, whether it be on the television, radio or online. Make sure the information you are accessing is from a reputable source. If you use the internet, only look at reliable sources of information that are updated regularly, such as Health Canada, The Public Health Agency of Canada, a provincial health authority, the World Health Organization or The Canadian Lung Association www.lung.ca/covid19.
- Follow government advice - COVID-19 is an evolving issue and recommendations evolve as we learn more. Know that the Canadian government is updating its guidelines as more information becomes known. Be sure you check official government sources often to stay up-to-date. Continue to follow social distancing guidelines (6 feet); wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and limit your outings to essential ones only.
- Stay connected - Don’t let physical distancing turn into emotional distancing. Stay in touch with your friends and family regularly by phone or online via video calls or social media. You can try modern means like Zoom or Facetime so you can see each other’s faces, or you can make a phone call. Whichever way you do it, try and make time to connect with someone at least once a day
Top 10 tips for a healthy body
- Breathe - Like a baby. Inhale, so your belly fills with air as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as you pull your belly button back towards your spine. Do this at least twice a day, 10 breath cycles each time. It will calm you, oxygenate your body and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
- Get up! - Get up and walk around for 2 minutes every hour and you will feel so much better.
- Fuel your body & hydrate– Make sure you maintain a healthy and nutritious diet. It can be tempting to resort to unhealthy comfort foods, but the comfort these give you will be temporary. Fueling your body with healthy foods will boost your mood and keep you as healthy as possible. Likewise, hydration is key to making sure your body, brain and vital organs are ready to function. Make sure you adapt slowly to the daily increase of water intake. Take it one cup at a time.
- Sit and stand properly – Check your sitting and standing posture to make sure your weight is evenly distributed and your spine is neutral.
- Gaze - Look up from your computer screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Look as far as you can see - notice details of the walls, ceiling or out of your window.
- Get your blood flowing– In addition to regular stretches, consider using a tennis ball under your feet and your glutes to get the blood flowing.
- Sleep well - If you are a back sleeper, place a pillow under your knees or if you are a side sleeper, place a pillow between your knees. This will put your pelvis in a better position and your low back will be much happier. Make sure to have a regular sleep schedule. Let your mind and body rest.
- Exercise – Get your body moving. Everyone’s ability to exercise is different, but it’s important to find a type of exercise that works for you. It will help you stay active and boost your mental health. (See our suggested exercises.)
- Stay healthy - If you have an existing lung disease, it is important you continue to treat your condition. Make sure you continue to take your prescribed medication and follow your action plan, if you have one. It’s more important than ever to keep your body as healthy as possible.
- Quit smoking – We know quitting isn’t easy, but now may be the right time to try and quit. Smoking may expose you to developing a more severe case of COVID-19, should you get it.
Government of Saskatchewan. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus