Here's what you need to know about going into self-isolation
Published Wednesday, March 11, 2020 6:24PM EDT
KITCHENER -- If you're feeling ill after travelling to an area considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19, you may be asked to stay home and self-isolate as a precaution.
But what exactly does that look like, and do you still get paid?
Waterloo Region Public Health says the risk of contracting coronavirus here is low for now, but that could change quickly because people are still travelling.
If you find yourself in self-isolation, here's some advice from health officials.
When it's necessary
At this point, not many people in Waterloo Region have had to self-isolate.
Public Health officials say that you should only consider it if you've travelled recently and are feeling ill.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cold and cough, a runny nose, a sore throat and trouble breathing.
Health officials do encourage people who have travelled to a hotbed area recently, including Hubei Province in China or Iran, to stay home and monitor themselves for symptoms for two weeks.
In either case, if you have recently travelled and are experiencing symptoms, Public Health officials ask that you call them right away.
Staying home for two weeks
Going into self-isolation means you can't leave your house, but a porch or backyard should be okay.
If you need supplies, health officials say you should ask friends or family to leave them somewhere safe.
For the ones that live with you, Public Health says you should try to maintain a distance of two metres apart from your family members to prevent the transmission of any illness.
In fact, officials recommend staying in one room.
"Coming out to go to the bathroom and feeding themselves, but trying to arrange with other family members that they're not crossing paths too much," says Kristy Wright, Manager of Infectious Disease at Region of Waterloo Public Health.
Wright says you should make sure you have two weeks-worth of necessities on hand if you need to stay home.
Those include medication, non-perishable food, water and toiletries.
What about work?
A Kitchener labour lawyer says that employers need to be cautious about asking an employee to self-isolate.
Melanie Reist, with Morrison Reist Krauss LLP, says that asking an employee to stay home without pay could be risky.
"Making that unilateral and arbitrary decision that somebody stay at home, it may be triggering liability for the employer," she says.
The best case scenario, Reist thinks, is getting employees to work from home when possible.
She says employers need to be creative in terms of how they're going to manage the situation.
There are other options to recoup lost pay if you're at home with symptoms, like using vacation time, sick days and disability insurance.
There's also employment insurance, updated by the federal government on Thursday so that Canadians no longer need to wait to receive it.
Waiving the previous one-week waiting period for people placed in quarantine is a move said to cost $5 million, but expected to help those impacted in the long run.