I hope this post finds you and your loved ones happy, healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. I'm Sam, a public policy and health science nerd and I'm currently completing my Master of Health Information Science. I've been trying to get credible and easy to understand information out to Canadians. At the end of this post are some credible and easy to understand links that I hope you find helpful.
I've been volunteering for just over two weeks with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) & Federation of American Scientists (FAS) to answer questions from the public regarding COVID-19. In addition, over the past few weeks or so, I've been using my personal social media (mainly Instagram stories) to reach out to my followers and provide information on the pandemic, answer questions, provide definitions, and just help everyone stay educated and informed in a way that is easy to understand.
As someone with a genuine interest in public policy and an academic background in public health, health information, knowledge translation and health policy, I've been able to keep up with the overwhelming amount of information out there on this pandemic.
'Keeping up with the information out there' has three components.
First, you have to be able to sift through all the information out there and determine what is credible. Even reputable websites can misquote, mislead people or make mistakes.
Two, you have to innately understand that this is a developing situation, and things are rapidly changing. This also involves keeping up with the changes as they occur.
Three, the information has to be presented in a way that the reader will understand.
In my opinion, these are three steps too many. It is a lot to ask people who do not have a background in the health sector to do all three of those steps on an average day. Right now, people are facing a multitude of additional issues such as worries around their personal finances, how they're going to feed their families, how they are going to care for their children while balancing their work and other issues. These above issues that stem from the social determinants of health have heightened as we face this global pandemic together.
Let me be clear, I'm not a doctor*, and I can't promise that I will always have an answer but I will do my best to help. As I mentioned earlier, this is a developing situation and things do change, but I am committed to helping any way I can until this crisis is over. I make sure the information I share is evidence-informed, peer-reviewed where possible, and from credible sources. I also try my best to share information in an easy to understand way.
I genuinely believe that the only way through this is to think less about me and more about we. Now, more than ever, we have to come together and do our individual part to get through this pandemic together.
If your job permits you to stay home, please stay home.
If you know people who are vulnerable (elderly and those with weakened immune systems) offer to pick up groceries and medicine for them to limit their travel outside of their home.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and cough into your elbows.
- If you suspect you might have symptoms consistent with COVID-19: Take the self-assessment, call your local public health authority or primary care physician and Self-Isolate.
- Anyone who may have come into contact with you 2 days before your symptoms started should also self-isolate and monitor themselves for 14 days.
- This Link explains if you should visit an assessment centre, stay home or go to the emergency department if you have symptoms consistent with Covid-19
- For most people who experience mild symptoms the best course of action is to stay home, drink plenty of fluids, rest, and use a humidifier or hot shower to help ease sore throats and coughs, in addition to self-isolating.
- Disinfect frequently used items, and hard surfaces. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (which is an American governmental agency) has this great link on how and what to disinfect.
We are in this together, and even though we are physically distancing for the good of our communities, it doesn't mean we need to stop caring for one another virtually. Facetime the people you usually call and call the people you usually text! Set up zoom or google hangout calls for family and friends! Host a virtual bar night! Join a virtual gym!
I hope that wherever you are, you are healthy, happy and staying home with your loved ones. I'm only a direct-message away if you have any questions!
- Samanta Krishnapillai,
Your friendly neighbourhood Health Scientist.
*much to the dismay of my parents.
My Link.tree - There are a lot of links here on COVID-19 information
My Instagram - Check out my highlight on COVID-19 for past posts
Financial Options for Canadians Impacted by COVID-19 - such a great link that a professor from Carleton U put together that is really easy to understand.
Dr. Theresa Tam - Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
One of the best municipal public health authority websites is Ottawa Public Health, definitely worth looking at even if you aren't from Ottawa!
**The term social distancing is being phased out and instead, experts are shifting to physical distancing. The premise is the same, but the hope is that it will encourage us to continue to be social virtually while physically distancing.
Take the Pledge, Hashtag #MyCovidPledge and tag 5 friends to spread the word about COVID-19.