We answer your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to [email protected], and we’ll get back to you as much as possible. We post a selection of responses online and also ask questions of experts on National and on TBEN News Network. So far, we have received over 57,000 emails from across the country.
In light of recent COVID-19 spikes across Canada, the trickiest part of a vacation may well be planning. Balancing your COVID-19 risk level with your families could prove difficult.
We heard from Canadians worried about what the holidays might be like, so we asked the experts how best to negotiate the rallies this season.
Should we cancel our Christmas plans?
Kirsten Z. asked if she should cancel her vacation plans entirely.
First, it’s important to remember that officials and medical experts have pointed out that large extended family reunions with family members from all over is not a good idea at this time.
“Obviously the holidays will be different this year,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a press conference earlier this week. The difference, he says, depends on where you live.
“Maybe the Atlantic bubble can be spared, depending on their ability to keep things going and their politics,” said Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto. .
However, in many in other parts of the country with more worrying counts, this does not look promising.
Dating is discouraged in most parts of the country. In Manitoba and some parts of Ontario, they’re not allowed at all.
WATCH | How to navigate the holiday season as the pandemic continues:
“It won’t be a popular response, but unfortunately I don’t think [family gatherings] will be a sure thing for us in most parts of Canada, ”Hota said.
Dr Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist, agreed.
“It doesn’t seem encouraging that traditional things like Christmas dinner are happening,” said Chagla, who is an associate professor at McMaster University and a consulting physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont.
“We’ve seen epidemics associated with family dinners and sleepovers, and it’s just too risky for the community to host another amplifying event.
What if we isolate ourselves first?
Quebecers have been offered the possibility of quarantining themselves a week before and a week after Christmas in exchange for lifting the ban on gatherings.
A number of you have written to ask if secluding yourself before the holidays would allow you to reunite.
“I think it’s a pragmatic approach, informed in part by Canada’s Thanksgiving experience.” said Dr Matthew Oughton, attending physician in the infectious diseases division at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital, referring to the Canadians who gathered despite warnings from public health officials.
But he fears that due to the incubation period of COVID-19, which is sometimes longer than the seven days advised by Quebec, some may develop symptoms even after the second week of isolation and then spread the disease further. virus.
WATCH | Quebec Holiday Gathering Rules
Other experts fear the idea is good in theory, but see flaws in its practicality.
“I think there are too many holes in this strategy,” Chagla said. He pointed out that there were simply too many opportunities for someone to slip away and put everyone at risk because isolation would require:
Adults working from home.
Keep children home after school.
Do not go out in public at all, not even for shopping.
The notion also raises equity issues, noted Chagla, as many families simply do not have the capacity to isolate themselves for 14 days due to work or other factors.
Hota agreed and said isolation would be unrealistic for most people.
“The problem is that it is very difficult to exclude all contact from everyone,” she said.
We should also trust that everyone was diligent.
“People are starting to make their own judgments and decisions by saying, ‘I’ve had 11 out of 14 days and that’s good enough,’” Hota said. “It worries me about this strategy.”
But if we get negative test results, we’ll be fine, right?
Hota warned that a negative test could give you a false sense of security.
Testing is not always precise and the accuracy of results is highly dependent on timing.
“Testing just tells you what your status is at the time you were tested,” Hota said. “It doesn’t tell you if you’re going to develop infections in a few days when you show up to your parents.
Is it safe to give and receive gifts, cards or cookies?
Chagla and Hota have agreed that giving gifts and dropping off baked goods is safe, as long as you take the necessary precautions such as removal and hand hygiene.
“Once you’ve wrapped and given or received your gift, just be sure to wash your hands,” Hota said.
If it is a washable item, like clothes, Hota suggested that you wash them, which you should do with new clothes anyway.
However, she said there was no need to wipe everything down with disinfectants like we were at the start of the pandemic.
“We are learning, over time, that the virus doesn’t really last that long on surfaces, especially clothing,” she said in a previous article.
As for the exchange itself, Chagla said doing it from a physical distance, with masks and outdoors would be “a great option” if your local public health agency allows it. But in Toronto, for example, even outdoor socializing is discouraged.
And if you wanted to take an extra precaution, Chagla suggested leaving the presents under the tree overnight before opening them together the next morning – virtually.
How do we tell mom we won’t be coming for Christmas?
We have heard from Canadians who have made the decision to stay home, but still want to know: What’s the best way to tell their families that they are not coming?
“Frame your message in terms of family considerations,” said Igor Grossmann, associate professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo.
He suggests telling your loved ones that you are not coming “not because you are trying to be selfish, but because you care about them and you care about your aging parents.”
But what if they get angry or think you are overreacting?
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that you need to be compassionate and stay calm, according to Grossmann.
“Don’t make any accusations and don’t make them feel bad,” he said.
People can be quick to assume that other people are just selfish and that’s the reason they don’t follow the rules and recommendations of public health officials, Grossman added.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. It may be the case for some people, but it’s often a lack of proper information.”
WATCH | Why a January COVID-19 could be particularly problematic:
Instead, Grossmann suggests asking them where they get their information from and offering them their point of view. Then explain to them why you think the way you think and where your sources come from.
“The best strategy is to engage in a dialogue where you don’t underestimate their opinion, but rather elaborate on their sources,” he said. “This type of dialogue can often help people realize that their beliefs are based on uninformed opinions.”
If you are looking to do your research before you run into this type of situation, be sure to pull information from reliable resources, such as Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How can I talk to my family / friends who don’t take the pandemic seriously or who think it’s just the flu?
“The worst thing you can do in this type of situation is tell them that they are stupid and that they are wrong, because as research has shown it will lead them to stop and stop right away. don’t listen, ”Grossmann said.
Even if you don’t have a lot of common ground to build on, it’s still important to open up a dialogue and have a conversation, rather than a discussion.
What if we go there and they don’t take precautions?
So you talked about it and decided to visit a small family bubble, but you arrive at Grandma’s house and no one follows the rules you have laid out. And after that?
Don’t panic or overreact to anything, Grossmann said. You can always control things like wearing a mask and the distance you put between yourself and others.
“You can always take a step back,” he says. “If someone gets too close to you, you can say, ‘Can I take a step back? “”
Above all, Grossmann emphasized the idea that if you don’t feel comfortable or if it goes against common sense, you probably shouldn’t.