Guidance on steps you can take to prevent getting ill from COVID-19
The COVID-19 virus can survive outside the body on objects and surfaces but it is easily destroyed by soap and water or disinfectant
Wiichihiituwin (CPS) is working with our partner Air Creebec to ensure the safety of our clients flying on the air charter during COVID-19.
Clients will be seated in such a way as to ensure the best-possible physical distancing, following regional public health recommendations.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough.
- Some patients may have aches and pains, runny nose and sore throat.
- These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
- Some people experience a sudden loss of smell or taste, without having a stuffy nose.
- Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms, and don't feel unwell.
- People with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing or any of the above symptoms should arrange to be tested for COVID-19. Call your CMC or the COVID-19 Info-Line for Eeyou Istchee: 1-866-855-2811.
If you feel very sick (for example have difficulty breathing), you or your family should inform the clinic, and seek urgent medical attention immediately.
- Click here to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to get it.
- Practice physical distancing, staying 2 metres (6 feet or 2 arms-length) from people who are not members of your household.
- Do not stay in closed and confined spaces with people who are not members of your household. For example, don’t go on drives with people who do not live with you. Do not participate in house gathering and house parties with people who do not live with you.
- Avoid shaking hands or kissing when you greet someone.
- Use other ways to greet people that don’t involve touching
Wear a mask
- Wear an appropriate cloth or procedure mask that fully covers your nose and mouth, which is secured with ties or bands.
- Masks should be worn in public indoor spaces and when you can’t maintain your distance (2 arms-length) from individuals who do not live with you (members of your household).
- Proper hygiene, especially hand hygiene, can help reduce the risk of infection, or of spreading the infection to others.
- Wash your hands at least every 1-2 hours with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Wash your hands right after you come home, after using the washroom, and when preparing food.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and warm water are not available.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand.
- Dispose of your tissue as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean the following high-touch surfaces often with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water):
- Door handles
- Bedside tables
- TV remotes
Respect local measures, like outside travel, inter-community travel, and isolation.
If you are sick – stay home!
Masks are safe to wear and are recommended for people older than 2 years old to help prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19.
- People aged 2 years and older should wear masks in public settings (especially in closed settings and in crowded settings) and when around people who don’t live in their household.
- When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself.
- Masks work best when everyone wears one.
- Wearing a surgical or homemade cloth mask, even for long periods of time, has not been shown to cause carbon dioxide poisoning (hypercapnia or carbon dioxide toxicity) or reduced oxygen levels in healthy people.
- People who are wearing cloth or surgical masks are in little to no danger of breathing in unhealthy amounts of carbon dioxide.
- Gasses like carbon dioxide and oxygen are tiny and are able to pass through most mask materials. Droplets containing the coronavirus, however, are too large to pass through.
- People with respiratory problems should not wear a mask.
While wearing a mask:
- Make sure it fits properly and allows you to breathe normally.
- Do not reuse a disposable or dirty mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp.
- If breathing becomes difficult with a mask, you should replace it with a new one.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after touching or removing your mask.
The test used to diagnose COVID-19 is a PCR test.
- A healthcare provider will swab the back of your nose and throat to collect a sample for the COVID-19 PCR test.
- After a sample is taken from the back of a person’s nose, it will be sent to the lab in Mistissini, Chibougamau, or Chisasibi Hospital to be analyzed.
- Test results are usually available within 2-3 days.
- If you are being tested because you have symptoms, or because you have had contact with a positive case, you will need to self-isolate while waiting for your test results.
Learn about COVID-19 testing from Dr. Colleen Fuller. Recorded in August 2020.
For now, testing for COVID-19 in Eeyou Istchee can be done for anyone in the following situations:
- People with symptoms that could be COVID-19
- People who have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or identified as possibly having been exposed during contact tracing.
We have also been testing some people who do not have symptoms (asymptomatic screening tests).
- These screening tests are offered to individuals who may be more vulnerable to the disease (such as Elders in group residences) and people who have essential jobs that put them in contact with more people (like healthcare workers, school staff, miners or first responders).
- We also offer screening tests to people who just came back from medical care in places like Montreal, and for other workers coming to Eeyou Istchee from the south, who did not get tested before travelling to our region.
- The screening test offer will consider any new needs that arise as the pandemic goes on.
- As part of MSIL requirements, getting screened for COVID-19 is strongly recommended.
- If you were in a place where there were cases but we cannot contact everyone who was in contact with the cases, we may ask people who were at the location to be tested.
- In this case, people may be asked to test but will not be asked to isolate - it is not the same as when we are following you because we know you have been in contact with someone who has COVID.
- Your chances of encountering someone with the virus is larger after being with a large crowd
- In general, we know that most transmission comes from large gatherings
No, the COVID-19 test is not mandatory.
- Maintaining a high rate of screening tests helps us all by giving our communities a clear picture of if and how the virus is circulating in the community.
- For people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who had contact with someone who was infectious, even if they refuse testing, they will still need to self-isolate.
- In many circumstances, refusing a test in these situations will lead to a longer self-isolation period than if the person agrees to be tested.
Asymptomatic screening tests are also not mandatory, but highly encouraged.
Anyone who is tested because of having symptoms or because of contact with an infectious person must self-isolate as they are waiting for their test result. If you are tested as part of the enhanced asymptomatic screening, you do not need to self-isolate while waiting for the result (unless you are already self-isolating under the Mandatory Self Isolation Law).
- A nurse will follow-up with you regarding your test result and the precautions you must take to protect yourself and others.
- If you have been tested, and your test is positive, a healthcare worker will provide you with self-isolation instructions and follow up care.
Studies suggest that the incubation period of COVID-19 can be anywhere from 2 to 14 days.
- Incubation period is defined as the time period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms of that infection.
- This is why there is required self-isolation after traveling to a high-risk region or after being in close contact with someone who is infected.
- People who are infected with COVID-19 are thought to become infectious about 2 days before having symptoms.
- Some people are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms and may require hospitalization.
- We cannot always predict how someone’s body will respond to COVID-19 infection.
- People’s risk depends on various factors, like how strong their immune system is and how fast it can respond to the virus.
People who are considered at high-risk include:
- Older people (for example, people in their 50’s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40’s. Similarly, people in their 60’s or 70’s are at higher risk than people in their 50’s)
- People with an underlying health condition (like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, kidney disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder)
- Obese people
- People who use tobacco and alcohol
An outbreak is when the number of cases of COVID-19 increases in the same geographic location in a short amount of time.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying , assessing, monitoring, educating and managing people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to prevent onward transmission in the community.
- When routinely applied, contact tracing can break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 and limit the spread of disease in the community.
- People can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms or feel sick, so it is important to isolate if instructed by a healthcare worker or contact tracer even if you feel well.
- The public health care workers will contact you if you have been possibly exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 (for example if you are a contact of a COVID-19 patient).
- For contact tracing to work, it is important for people to answer their phones and to provide the public health workers with detailed and accurate information, so that the community members are as protected as possible.
During contact tracing, the public health workers will ask the people at risk to:
- 1) Stay in isolation or quarantine for a given period of time (usually 14 days after the last exposure to infectious person);
- 2) Get tested (either once or more than once);
- 3) Monitor their symptoms and temperature while in isolation and inform the public health workers if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19 (for example, cough, fever, loss of taste/smell, difficulty breathing etc.);
- 4) Follow preventive measures (like frequent hand washing) while waiting in isolation;
- 5) Call their local clinic if they develop severe symptoms, like severe difficulty breathing, that needs urgent medical attention.
- It is important for all community members to answer their phone even if they do not recognize the number – it may be a public healthcare worker with important information.
Testing for COVID-19 antibodies is possible to detect a past infection, but is not very accurate and is not offered through normal clinical services.
- An antibody (serology) test can tell, if at some point, you were exposed to the virus and had a COVID-19 infection. This test is done using a sample of your blood. Read more about this test here.
- This antibody test is not always accurate in finding individuals who have had a COVID-19 infection
- Antibody testing is not currently available in Eeyou Istchee. It will soon become available at McGill University Health Centre but the use will be limited for management of certain sick patients by medical specialists, and will not be available to the general public.
- If people are interested in getting an antibody test for personal reasons, they can refer to private labs (for example the CDL in Montreal) which provide the test for a fee.
- Antibody tests are different from PCR (swab) tests that diagnose a person with a current COVID-19 infection.
- Based on recommendations from Health Canada, the results of an antibody test cannot be used to exempt people from general COVID-19 preventive measures, like wearing a mask.
- The vaccination expert committee in Canada (CIQ) also recommends that all eligible individuals with a history of COVID-19 infection also receive the COVID-19 vaccination.