A pandemic is an outbreak of a disease that can affect a number of countries at the same time and cause widespread sickness in a large number of people. Pandemics are most often caused by viruses, like Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which can easily spread from person to person. When a new virus like COVID-19 emerges, it can spread rapidly around the world, making it very difficult to predict when or where a new pandemic might occur.
Preparing for a Pandemic
It’s important to be ready for a pandemic so you’re not caught unprepared. Some of the most important things you can do to prepare are:
- Make plans – make sure you have a well-prepared personal emergency and participate in the local community processes so you and your family know what to do in case an outbreak occurs. Try to plan for how a pandemic may affect your plans for other emergencies.
- Gather a stock of supplies – in case you need to stay at home for an extended period of time, such as several weeks at a time. Things like cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, extra medications and bottled water can be essential during a pandemic.
- Stay connected – listen closely to find out about whether schools, businesses and workplaces are being closed or operating with restricted capacity.
- Learn about the disease – keep updated on safety protocols from the Ministry of Health and learn how to slow or stop the spread to protect yourself and others. Diseases like viruses can sometimes be spread a number of different ways, including in cases where people may not be exhibiting any symptoms.
During a Pandemic
If a pandemic is occurring, you need to know the hazards you face and how to minimize those dangers. Some of the most important things you can do are:
- Make sure you are in a safe place – by following the guidelines and direction s from the Ministry of Health and the Disaster Office.
- Work to prevent the disease from spreading – listen and obey official instructions and advisories from public health authorities and follow proper disease protocols. For COVID-19, this includes:
- Wearing a mask in public and staying home when you’re sick,
- Disinfecting surfaces, washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 70 percent alcohol
- Staying 2m away from people who are not part of your household.
- Get vaccinated – as long as vaccines are available in your area. Vaccines stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies, helping prevent diseases.
- Be vigilant – if you think you’ve been exposed to the disease, contact your doctor, follow the quarantine instructions from medical providers and monitor your symptoms. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call the health centre or the Fire and Ambulance Service and shelter in place with a mask, if possible, until help arrives.
- Only share accurate information from credible sources –sharing inaccurate information about the disease or treatments can have serious health outcomes.
After a Pandemic
- Stay safe – by continuing to take protective actions, like:
- Staying home when you are sick (except to get medical care).
- Following the guidance of your health care provider.
- Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Help out – assist your neighbors and take part in community discussions about the lessons learned from the pandemic. Decide how you can use these experiences to be more prepared for future pandemics.