2020 is going to continue to challenge us in the area of our health. As we enter the cold and flu season, what are the predictions? On July 22, 2020 The Wall Street Journal headlines read, “COVID-19 Measures Have All but Wiped Out the Flu in the Southern Hemisphere”. The article goes on to state that from Chile to South Africa to New Zealand, countries report far lower numbers of influenza cases. They accredit the precautions and controls put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also prevented the spread of influenza; makes perfect sense to me!
I wonder though what the impact will be in Canada as move into the reopening of our workplaces, schools, public venues, and lifted states of emergency with cold and flu season at the door? Will physical distancing, wearing a face covering, respiratory etiquette and frequent handwashing be enough to stave off the cold and flu season in Canada? Public Health messaging on prevention of the spread of cold and flu have the same controls for preventing COVID-19. Logic dictates that if we follow these controls it will be a healthier winter for all of us.
What about signs and symptoms? There are too many similarities to easily distinguish, at the onset, if you have a cold, flu or COVID-19. What will your workplace do? 14 days of isolation for anyone with symptoms regardless of cold, flu or COVID-19? Allergies are already a problem this fall adding more confusion of symptoms. Oh, the looks one gets if you sneeze or cough in public! Have you taken the self-screening on the government websites? I have yet to pass one without being told I need to take some type of action.
Truly the best advice we can give from our health and safety lens is precautions, controls, and diligence. Use what we know works. Increased sanitization, physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, and frequent hand washing. Ensure employees know stay home if sick and get tested. You can get quicker results from a COVID-19 test then to self-isolate for 14 days. Have a discussion in your workplace, create a plan of prevention together and stay safe this cold and flu season!!!