How to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak

Here are some ways you can prepare to help minimize the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on Prince Edward Island.

Be prepared, but don’t panic

You're going to want to to have a supply of cleaners to disinfect surfaces if someone gets sick. (Scott Eells/Bloomberg)

Here are some ways you can prepare to help minimize the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak on Prince Edward Island.

First and foremost, Health Canada recommends taking care of yourself, and others around you.

That means if you are sick, whether with COVID-19 or the flu or a bad cold, stay home. This is the best way to prevent the spread of illness. When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow. Around the house, regularly clean frequently-touched objects such as door handles.

The coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 is spread through direct contact with surfaces or people contaminated with the virus. In an area where there is an outbreak, change your regular greeting. Instead of a handshake or hug, opt for a wave or elbow bump. In Quebec, the province's health minister asked people to avoid the traditional double-kiss greeting.

Wash your hands regularly and if you don't have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer.

Health Canada also advises changing your routine to avoid crowded places. For example, do your grocery shopping at off-peak hours, and exercise outdoors instead of at an indoor fitness class.

Stock up

Health Canada says it makes sense to fill cupboards with non-perishable food, but avoid panic buying.

Having extra stores on hand will be useful if you get sick, and can't go out for more. Or so you can stay at home during the peak of an outbreak.

Instead of mass buying, pick up a few extra items each time you're out. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

The typical quarantine period for COVID-19 has been 14 days, so it makes sense to have a two-week supply in your home. Health Canada recommends not going out and buying everything you need at once, because this can cause a short-term supply shortage. Instead, pick up a few of the extra items that you need every time you go out.

Buy foods that are easy to prepare. Items with a long shelf life — such as rice, pasta, beans and lentils — are a good start. Canned foods are an option if you get too sick to want to prepare even simple meals, or you can put aside some things in the freezer if you have the space.

Also, Health Canada suggests a stock of toilet paper, facial tissue, dish and laundry soap, as well as feminine hygiene products, pet food and diapers if they are required.

If you have prescription medication, make sure you have a stock of that as well.

If someone in your home gets sick

Preparing for the chance that someone in your house could get sick also requires stocking up.

Have a supply of your standard cold and flu medicines on hand. Health Canada also suggests items to disinfect both yourself and areas the sick person is using.

  • Soap.
  • Facial tissue.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Paper towels.
  • Household cleaner and bleach.
  • Garbage bags.

If possible, make a plan to isolate sick people within the home.

Provide them with their own bedroom and bathroom. If there is only one bathroom in the home, clean it regularly, especially regularly-touched surfaces such as door handles, taps, and toilet handles. Don't share towels.

Stay in touch

Health Canada recommends talking to family, friends and neighbours about your plans.

In particular, you should make plans to check in regularly, so you can help each other if people get sick.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website and on the P.E.I. government website.

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Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at