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Posted 11/03/2020 6:00:00 PM by Tanya Colaco

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about COVID-19. And while there is a lot of great information being shared, there is a lot of misinformation too. With that in mind, we want to take this opportunity to tell you how to stay healthy at the YMCA. 

Background Information on COVID-19 

The symptoms of COVID-19, are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold. Most cases are considered mild to moderate with a subset experiencing more severe illness with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
Cases were initially linked to exposure to live animals at a seafood market in Wuhan City but the current concern is due to human-to-human transmission of the virus. Other respiratory viruses can be spread from a cough or sneeze or from touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your eyes, mouth or nose. 
The risk to Canadians is considered low at this time. However, the threat is being taken seriously. 

COVID-19 Signs and Symptoms

If you have been travelling and you become ill during your trip or after you return home, tell your health care provider about recent travel and your symptoms. You should also tell your provider if you had close contact with a sick person or had another high-risk exposure such as direct contact with animals. Even if you have not travelled, you still may be at risk of contracting the disease.
Reported signs and symptoms include: 
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Pneumonia in both lungs
  • Gastrointestinal illness (nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea)

The Good News: How to Prevent the Spread of Infection

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is monitoring the coronavirus situation, and the risk to Canada and Canadians continues to be low. With that said, the health and well-being of the people we serve, and our staff, is a top priority at the YMCA.
Please see below for some additional information to inform you of what factors you and your families need to keep in mind to help mitigate the spread of illness: 
  • If you or anyone in your family is returning from recent travel from any affected countries and have a fever (38° Celsius or higher), is sick with symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, congestion, aches, pains; stay home and contact your doctor, local health office, and/or HealthLink BC by dialing 8-1-1.
  • In addition, please stay home and contact the appropriate health agencies if any of the following apply:
    • Have travelled to any affected countries within 14 days of becoming ill.
    • Have been in close contact with a person who is sick and has been to any affected countries within 14 days of becoming ill.
    • Have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • If you or a family member have any of the conditions above, stay home and do not go to work or other public areas until you are no longer sick. If it is necessary to go out (for example, to attend a medical appointment), please have the individual wear a surgical mask over the nose and mouth, and use a private vehicle for any necessary travel.
  • If you experience severe symptoms such as chest pains or shortness of breath, call 9-1-1 immediately or visit your nearest hospital emergency department.
At the YMCA, we are taking measures to eliminate the spread of germs at our centres of community, child care facilities, and other locations. Our staff are providing participants with handouts from the Vancouver Coastal Health Sneezes and Diseases book which outlines more steps for proper handwashing. 

Other Ways to Prevent the Spread of Infection 

  1. Stay at home when sick

If you are sick, avoid going to work as you can spread influenza easily to others. You should also visit those who are sick only if necessary. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids (water, juice, etc) and check with your health care provider when needed. Phone 8-1-1 (available 24 hours a day) or Do not return to work until you are symptom-free for 24 hours.
  1. Wash your hands

Wash your hands often and thoroughly in warm soapy water or use hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or more). Hand washing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Good hand washing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults. It is recommended that you sing "Happy Birthday" twice in your mind while handwashing to ensure a lengthy, thorough cleansing.
  1. Cover coughs and sneezes

Sneeze and cough into your elbow or sleeve or use a tissue. After wiping or blowing your nose with a tissue, throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
  1. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

Keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth. You can become ill after touching a surface contaminated with germs and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Viruses can live on hard surfaces for 24 to 48 hours and on non-porous surfaces from 8 to 12 hours.
  1. Keep common surfaces clean 

Keep personal items separate from others. Do not share personal items or drinks. Clean common surfaces regularly (i.e. telephones, keyboards, photocopiers, fax machines, etc).
  1. Practice other good health habits

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutritious foods and avoid smoking. Smoking may increase the risk of serious consequences if you do contract the flu.
  1. Watch out for influenza-like symptoms

Keep an eye out for the onset of respiratory symptoms with fever and cough and other symptoms listed above.

Where to Find the Latest Information and Updates

For more information and latest updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the website:
For travellers seeking advice on COVID-19, please refer to the latest Travel Notice from the Government of Canada. Timely updates are also available from the BC Centre for Disease Control, Health Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the most up-to-date information on the measures we are taking here at the Y, visit: 

About Tanya Colaco

Tanya is the Digital Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. She’s an avid foodie, enjoys learning new things and loves to travel. Tanya is also an “animal person” and can never resist petting any cat or dog that crosses her path!

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