Here’s how Alberta is recommending you self-isolate for COVID-19

Xiaobo Wang quarantined himself at his house in southwest Calgary as a precaution in February after travelling to China. The province now has more information on best practices for people who need to self isolate. Jim Wells / Postmedia

As the new coronavirus has now been confirmed in both of Alberta’s big cities, the potential for the need to self-isolate is becoming more real.

In preparation for the virus, Alberta Health has drawn up an information sheet on what you should do if you find you need to self-isolate.

According to Alberta Health, there is an incubation period of two to 10 days for COVID-19, and there’s a “very small chance” you can spread germs during the time you have contracted the virus but do not feel ill. This is why they’re recommending self-isolation for certain people who may have come in contact with a virus.

Self-isolation means staying at home and avoiding direct contact with anyone else. This includes staying away from shopping centres, grocery stores, or any public gathering.

Just because you’re self-isolating doesn’t mean you have the virus. Many travellers have been asked to self-isolate even if they’re not showing any symptoms.

Jihong Nancy Zhang found herself in that category last month.

The Calgary woman and her two kids returned from a trip to China at the end of January and immediately went into self-isolation.

She said her husband, who works as a truck driver, left the house to camp in his truck’s bunk.

“Before we came back, he already bought a lot to eat and medical supplies,” said Zhang.

“And if we need something else, we would call him and he would come by and put it in front of the door.”

Zhang was fortunate to have a family member able to assist her during her self-isolation but not everyone will have a family member to call on.

The province says you should not use public transit, taxis or rideshare services during the time you’ve been asked to self-isolate.

If you do need to go out in an emergency, you should wear a surgical mask.

Luckily, grocery delivery is now becoming more common in Calgary, with retailers such as Co-op, Superstore and Safeway offering the ability to shop online with delivery for an added fee, and the province is recommending Albertans in isolation use these services.

Some community groups have also popped up to help those in isolation.

Calgary’s Chinese-Canadian community mobilized via social media to deliver food and necessities to anyone in isolation.

Co-organizer May Han said so far they’ve helped 208 people in the Calgary area, with volunteers logging more than 2,500 hours of service.

Han said they have lots of experience and advice to share if other cultural communities wish to do the same.

“We would like to share with them our experience and are happy to provide our support if needed,” said Han.

And then there’s the question of how to spend your time.

While plenty of people are already musing about which series they’d binge-watch over 14 days, Zhang said her children had lots of homework to keep them occupied, and she stayed busy cleaning the house from top to bottom.

In the self-isolation guide sheet, the province recommends cleaning often, as Zhang did. Ontario, which has produced a similar info sheet, advises people to use regular household cleaners, and to clean specific items on a daily basis, including toilets, sinks, doorknobs and bedside tables.

Last but not least, the province says people should not share household items like plates, cups, utensils or towels, and wash your hands often, even when in self-isolation.

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