In many provinces, the government is lifting restrictions. Is COVID gone?

Welcome to “A Virtual Q&A with Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacists”! Join our pharmacists as they answer your questions on various health and medication topics.

As businesses, organizations, and public spaces begin to reopen, it's important to remember that the risk of COVID19 still exists.

The risk will vary between and within communities and may be increased in certain settings such as crowded areas, like public transit, restaurants, and shopping centres, and at large gatherings, such as spiritual and cultural settings, theatres, sports arenas, festivals and conferences.

There’s also an increased risk for individuals 65 years and older, those with compromised immune systems or those who have underlying medical conditions. People who fall into these vulnerable categories should reconsider attending gatherings. This includes large gatherings and even smaller events in crowded or enclosed settings.

You can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and away from others if you are feeling ill, and maintaining physical distancing of at least two meters away from people outside of your immediate household and public. Continue to limit outings and public gatherings where possible.

Also, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Practice good hygiene, such as avoiding touching your face, and covering your cough or sneeze, an increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

Wear a face covering in public where physical distancing is a challenge or not possible. Medical masks including surgical, medical procedure and respirators, like N-95 masks, should still be kept for health care workers and others who are providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.

However, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering while out in public is strongly recommended, particularly for periods of time where it's not possible to consistently maintain a 2 meter distance from others. Non-medical masks or face coverings should fit securely to the head with ties or earloops, maintain their shape after washing and drying, be made of at least two layers of tightly woven materials, such as cotton or linen, and be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping. When wearing a face covering, you should wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off.

Make sure that the face covering fits well around your nose and mouth and avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often. Avoid touching the covering while you’re using it, and don't share it with others. Face coverings should be changed when they get slightly wet or dirty.

If the face covering can be cleaned, you should put it directly into the washing machine, or in a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine. Now, if the face covering cannot be cleaned, you should throw it out into a garbage container and wash your hands immediately after. Do not leave or discard the face covering in shopping carts or on the ground.

As businesses return to work, employees and employers should also make plans to minimize the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. This includes plans to screen employees, physical distancing measures, hand hygiene etiquette, environmental cleaning and disinfection, the use of personal protective equipment, and a plan to manage cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. All employees need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and the importance of reporting illness to their supervisor. Anyone with illness should go home immediately, self-isolate, and contact their public health division to get tested. Employers should also have a flexible attendance policy so that employees can stay home if they're sick.

Non-essential work travel should also be avoided, and businesses should work remotely or redesign spaces and interactions to make them safer.

As we go back out into public spaces, and to the new normal, it’s very important to remember that everyone must do their part to keep each other, our families, and our communities safe. Talk to your pharmacist today, we're here to help.

Whether you have questions about your prescription medications, over-the-counter products, immunizations, or other health concerns, our pharmacists are here to help. The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. This information included in this recording is correct as of June 23, 2020