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Back to School - Coughs, Colds and Covid-19

Back to School - Coughs, Colds and Covid-19

For decades, the return of kids to classrooms has marked the beginning of the “cough and cold season” in Canada. Children at school are in close physical contact, exposed to people from other households.  Primary school children touch each other, frequently share food and drinks, and use communal computer key boards.  The influenza season in North America typically migrates from the southern hemisphere and begins here during the fall.  All these factors “kick off” the cold and flu season.

We shouldn’t be surprised that colds, runny noses, coughing and influenza ARE coming again this September.  Omicron and it’s subvariants like BA.5 will also be present.  Unlike the common cold and influenza, the current Covid-19 variants are transmitted in the air when people breathe out tiny droplets that contain the virus. The consequence is that they are highly contagious.  

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, the Omicron virus spreads more easily than previous variants such as Delta.  Generally, Omicron causes less severe symptoms, but even people who have been vaccinated can get Omicron and transmit the variant to others.

 

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others

  1. Ventilate – The Covid-19 virus spreads more readily indoors. Move air into or out of rooms using the buildings HVAC system. Filter the air with a “HEPA” filter, common in air cleaners.

 

  1. Stay Home – If you suspect you have been exposed, or you have symptoms; do not circulate in public spaces.

 

  1. Wear a Mask – A high quality mask such as an N-95 or KN95 will contain the droplets you breathe out. These masks when fitted properly provide a high level of protection for people around you.

 

  1. Keep a Safe Distance – avoid close contact and densely populated public spaces.

Finally, there is significant clinical evidence that substantiates vaccination to combat Covid-19.  The CDC’s most recent statement is clear: “Being up-to-date on Covid-19 vaccination provides strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death in all age groups.”1.

Further, if you live with a person who is immunocompromised, wearing an N-95 quality mask in their presence will reduce their potential risk.

 

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Effectiveness and Breakthrough Surveillance, August 25, 2022

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