On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced that the coronavirus (also called COVID-19) had become a global pandemic with more than 132,000 confirmed cases and over 4,900 deaths reported globally as of March 13th. According to Health Canada, while the risk of contracting the coronavirus in Canada remains low, that doesn’t mean you should not be taking precautions to prepare and protect yourself and others from the coronavirus.
We all have an individual responsibility in protecting ourselves and others from gradual community spread. As developments in the coronavirus pandemic outbreak continue to unfold in the coming days, it’s best to stay calm. Don’t be reactive out of fear and panic but proactive by taking these steps to protect yourself from the coronavirus and its potential impact.
Purchase life and disability insurance coverage if you haven’t already.
The coronavirus, like other highly infectious diseases such as SARS and Ebola, serves as a good reminder that we are all susceptible to unexpected events and hazards that can impact our health beyond our control at any time. A recent Forbes article reported people are not just stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer, they are also getting their financial houses in order and shopping around for life insurance coverage.
Now is the time to seriously consider, if you have not already, purchasing some type of whole life, or term insurance, and disability insurance coverage. Having insurance in place provides you with a protective safety net and financial bunker in these scary times.
And if you have life insurance coverage already, now is an opportune time to review your existing policy to see if you have ample coverage or need additional insurance such as long-term healthcare or disability.
Avoid all non-essential travel, especially out-of-country.
Be aware that there will always be health risks when you travel. Give the current coronavirus outbreak, those risks are higher and more serious. Health Canada has announced active health travel advisories for several countries where the coronavirus risk is very high and changing daily. While many countries, like the U.S., have imposed travel restrictions and/or travel bans to contain the virus, Canada has made recommendations but, at the time of publishing, has not taken such measures…
The government is also advising against all cruise ship travel due to many recent coronavirus outbreaks. The virus has shown it can spread quite rapidly on cruise ships given passengers are typical of an older demographic and residing in close contact with each other.
If you must travel or fly out-of-country or to a country where the risk of coronavirus exists, be aware that many travel insurance companies have adjusted, or are likely to adjust their policies to exclude the coronavirus outbreak. Many trip cancellation policies have an exclusion for known events and specify if you are aware of a reason or event that would cause you to cancel a trip before purchasing a policy, that the claim will not be paid. Coronavirus is now being earmarked as a “known” event.
Prepare a coronavirus emergency preparedness kit.
Due to the unpredictability of how the coronavirus will spread across the country, Health Canada is advising you to prepare in case you may have to self isolate or go into self-quarantine at home—this includes stockpiling essential supplies for at least two weeks or more (not panic buying) and preparing an emergency preparedness kit. You should also purchase and fill prescriptions in advance in the likelihood you may become sick and can’t get to a pharmacy.
Practice ‘social distancing’ and avoid large crowds.
Many large events have been cancelled or postponed in Canada to reduce community spread of the coronavirus. Public health officials are discouraging any public gatherings of more than 250 people to slow down community transmission of the virus.
One way you can minimize exposure to the coronavirus is to practice ‘social distancing’ by maintaining at least 2 meters or 2 arm lengths between yourself and other people, especially when they are coughing or sneezing. Transmission occurs when someone coughs or sneezes and is standing close to you. They release small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus and that you can potentially breathe in and become infected by. This also includes eliminating handshaking and limiting body to body contact for now since the virus can also be passed by shaking hands.
Implement proper hygiene measures to prevent potential community spread.
The World Health Organization has outlined basic preventative hygiene measures you can take against the new coronavirus to protect yourself and others in the community. Two of these actions include frequent hand washing for 20 seconds minimum using hand sanitizer or soap and water and not touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth). If you must sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or the bend/sleeve of your arm, but not into your hands. Dispose of any tissue in the garbage and always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
Be aware of coronavirus fake news and misinformation.
Right now, the world is not just experiencing a global coronavirus pandemic, we are also experiencing a coronavirus “infodemic” according to the World Health Organization.
With the constant daily barrage of global news coverage from television broadcasts to social media channels, there is a surfeit of information out there regarding the coronavirus that is either false or misinformed but working to incite fear and panic in people around the world. We should remain cautious and mindful at this time; as under these conditions, it can become increasingly difficult to ascertain what measures one should take.
As the weeks go by, developments in the coronavirus pandemic locally and globally will continue to change and unfold. Therefore, it is important to stay aware and monitor the flow of information from credible sources such as Health Canada, the World Health Organization and local government and public health officials.
Below are some links you can access to get factual, science-based information about the coronavirus.
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