Coronavirus FAQ: We answer your questions



Got questions? We’ve got answers.

A common theme in these uncommon times is uncertainty. When will things get better? What should I do in the meantime? Chances are if you’re wondering, so is someone else.

We’re here to get you the information you need. Below, you’ll find a list of all the questions we’ve been asked to date, and the best answers we can provide. If you have a question you don’t see listed, ask us through the form at the bottom of the page.

COVID-19


  • Thus far, approximately half of all deaths associated with COVID-19 have been linked
    to outbreaks in long-term care facilities.


  • The current trend in Ontario is a roughly 5%
    rate of positive results
    . This equates to approximately 500 confirmed cases for every 10,000 tests processed.


  • As of April 17th, over 100 long term care facilities in the province are
    battling COVID-19 outbreaks. No definitive list of affected locations has been made available. But all long-term care homes have been instructed to
    conduct aggressive screening – upgraded to twice daily – of staff, essential visitors and residents.


  • Although there are lots of factors to consider, the most recently available data indicates that
    social and physical distancing measures are working to flatten the curve.


  • Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. No specific treatments for COVID-19 exist right
    now
    . But some of the same things you do to feel better if you have the flu — getting enough rest, staying well-hydrated, and taking medications to relieve fever, aches and pains — also help with COVID-19.


  • While it is important to maintain physical distancing, as SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted via aerosolized droplets when a person coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. The likelihood of contracting the virus from a person in
    another vehicle is statistically minute. The risk is a product of the density of people, not an invisible cloud of viruses
    suspended in the air.


  • While there are some factors associated with warmer weather that can prevent community spread, there are also many that would exacerbate it. To the extent that the sun’s rays might work towards helping to “sanitize”
    surfaces, experts say it’s unlikely as the type of UV light used for sterilization is blocked by the earth’s ozone layer.


  • The Government of Ontario has an online self-assessment tool, which can help you determine whether you have the virus and what to do. This information is not
    intended to provide medical advice. If you have medical questions, consult a health practitioner or your local public health unit.


  • Despite the best efforts of experts in numerous fields, all
    models attempting to predict
    the trajectory of this pandemic are speculative at best. Because we have incomplete data, and few prior examples of such an outbreak to draw from, there is no definitive answer as to when the outbreak will
    subside.


  • While there are still many unknowns, preliminary information suggests that cats,
    dogs and ferrets
    can get infected with COVID-19. Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let them interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that
    person from everyone else, including pets.


  • So far, most medical researchers who have studied coronaviruses related to the pathogen that causes COVID-19 — including SARS, MERS and the common cold — are confident that people who do recover gain some immunity to SARS-CoV-2. This is based on preliminary studies and case reports of the new
    virus. They don’t know yet whether that protection will last a few months, a few years or longer.


  • This was due in part to the fact that Quebec’s “March Break” period is earlier than other provinces, and resulted in residents travelling to areas that were not yet known to carry a high risk.


  • The Health Officer of British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry has directly attributed
    the slowing number of cases
    to the fact that most British Columbians have been respecting her directives on physical distancing, avoiding non-essential travel and staying at home.


  • Unfortunately, masks and handwashing are no replacement for social distancing. The most successful approach to date
    has been one of combining social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and aggressive testing and quarantine measures.


  • According to Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Vinita Dubey, at this time medical officials believe the virus is not capable of spreading by way of mosquitoes or other insects. In fact, at this time most animals are not considered to be at risk of spreading the virus.

 

Essential services & work


  • Stuart Rudner of Rudner Law advises workers in this position to speak with your employer about adjusting your workload rather than simply refusing to work in order to claim the CERB benefit. Leaving may cost you your job permanently, as well as leave you ineligible for either CERB or regular Employment Insurance benefits.


  • You will receive $500 per week, regardless of what you may have been eligible to receive through Employment Insurance.
    However, once you are finished receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you will still be eligible to receive Employment Insurance at the higher rate, provided you cannot find a job. Getting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit does not affect your EI entitlement.


  • Under the current mandate, residential construction
    projects are permitted to continue
    if the necessary permits have been granted or if they involve renovation work to existing properties that started before April 4. It is important to consider that while a renovation may not seem
    essential, some in fact are, as they involve the usability of a home’s critical amenities such as kitchens or bathrooms. Policing and determining each on a case by case basis would be untenable, which is why construction is allowed to
    continue.


  • At this time, unless you have lost your income as a result of COVID-19 or were already receiving Employment Insurance, you are not eligible to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. However this may change by way of future government mandates.


  • Pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), workers in Ontario are entitled to refuse to work when they have reason to believe,
    among other things, that the “physical condition of the workplace”, or any equipment, machine, device or thing they use or operate, is likely to endanger them. However, the application of this principal to circumstances brought about by a
    pandemic is not always straight forward. Employers owe a duty of care to workers, but workers must also undertake their own measures to
    protect themselves, and familiarize themselves with their rights.


  • If you were laid off and now you’ve been recalled, you have a duty to go back to work, unless there is one of essentially three valid legal reason. One is that if you cannot work due to COVID-19, then you may be entitled to a job protected leave of absence. If you are entitled to accommodation for things like childcare obligations, or if you are immunocompromised and can’t be accommodated in the workplace, then you would not have to go to work. There is always a right to refuse unsafe work, so if the workplace itself is unsafe, then you would have a right not to go there. Unless one of those exceptions applies, then you can not simply decide not to go to work.


  • Accoding to Stuart Rudner of Rudner Law, once your CERB benefits end, you can apply and still be eligible for EI. Although not everyone will qualify, he says it is likely many will.

 

Lifestyle


  • There are no plans at this time to mandate the extension of operating hours at groceries or other essential facilities. While businesses themselves may opt to extend hours, it is in employers’ best interest to limit
    their workers’ exposure to possible infection.


  • Not at this time.


  • Some insurance providers have cut their premiums, and the Ontario government is allowing
    insurers to provide rebates
    as a direct result of the pandemic.


  • The Canadian Transportation Agency has not instructed airlines to provide refunds — instead, they are to provide vouchers for future travel.


  • The majority of travel into countries has been restricted due to COVID-19, or suspended altogether. For a list of rough guidelines, you can click here. Bear in mind that the situation is always evolving. If you must travel, it is always best to consult with the proper government
    authorities.


  • As of April 20, air travellers are required
    to wear masks that cover their noses and mouths while in Canadian airports and on-board flights
    . The rules apply to all flights arriving in or departing from Canada. Exceptions will be made for children under two and passengers with
    pre-existing breathing difficulties. Additionally, travellers with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing are not permitted to travel.


  • Yes — unless you’ve been put into mandatory self-isolation, both you and your pet need exercise and fresh air. Avoid crowded areas like dog
    parks and busy trails, and be sure to maintain a two-meter distance from others. Don’t let your dog interact with people or animals outside your household.


  • Any gatherings of more than five people — including private family meet-ups — are
    prohibited by the government
    . As much as possible, you should limit your contact to people within your household to avoid the spread of COVID-19.


  • It’s unlikely that you’ll catch coronavirus from food or its packaging — the virus doesn’t live for
    long on surfaces.
    There’s no need to disinfect each grocery item when you return to the store, but be sure to wash your hands before putting all your groceries away. Wipe down surfaces where you put the groceries down, then wash your
    hands again. Cooking will kill the virus, but freezing will not.


  • There haven’t yet been any documented cases of COVID-19 transmission via clothing, and it’s still unclear how long the virus can survive on clothes and other textiles. The good news is that the virus can be killed by using a washing machine and dryer to clean your
    clothes.
    Doing laundry often is particularly important if you’re living with someone who either has COVID-19 or is in close proximity to it, like healthcare workers.


  • According to Toronto’s Associate Officer of Health Vinita Dubey, the risk involved with swimming pools is not so much in the water. Assuming the pool is properly maintained, the added chlorine or bromine will likely be strong enough to destroy the virus. The biggest risk in these environments will be in physical distancing, both in the water and on deck, as well as in changerooms and other areas.


  • U of T psychology professor Steve Joordens suggests we might be overlooking the powerful simplicity of a phone call. While we cannot gather physically, a familiar voice can be far more comforting than the usual e-mails or text messages.

 

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