We’re answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to [email protected] and we’ll answer as many as we can. We’ll publish a selection of answers every weekday online, and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network.
So far we’ve received more than 25,000 emails from all corners of the country. Your questions have surprised us, stumped us and got us thinking.
Can I contract the virus in a swimming pool?
As the weather gets warmer, we’re getting more questions about pool protocol. John M. wants to know if he can have his kids and grandkids come over separately to swim in his private pool.
Experts say it is unlikely someone can become infected with the coronavirus by swimming in a pool.
“There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can survive in pools that are properly monitored and treated,” with routine measures like chlorine and bromine, says Dr. Ilan Schwartz, infectious disease clinician and assistant professor at the University of Alberta.
The risk of transmission is from inhaling droplets produced from coughing, sneezing or talking — all of which require people being relatively close to each other.
“It’s not so much the pool that gives the risk of transmission,” says Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, infectious diseases physician at Trillium Health Partners, but “rather, being in close proximity to someone else who may be infected.”
The water itself would not be a risk in transmission, he adds.
However, health officials are still recommending that we physically distance and stay home as much as possible, so John should wait until restrictions loosen before having his family over for pool time.
Right now, public pools are closed and most condo boards have also closed their amenities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, as things start to gradually open, Chakrabarti predicts there will be restrictions put in place to limit how many people can be in a public pool at one time.
Is blood being screened for the coronavirus?
This is an interesting question from Lujane in London, Ont. Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is not screening for the coronavirus, because evidence suggests it’s not transmissible through blood and blood products.
“We have not seen any case reports of transmission through blood transfusion,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, associate professor of infectious disease medicine at the University of Alberta.
“So blood transfusion does not appear to be high-risk for transmission of COVID.”
However, some countries are beginning to screen blood in an effort to track how the virus is spreading.
“I think that we will be seeing blood transfusion screening for COVID increasingly … to try to figure out what’s going on in the community,” Saxinger said.
CBS is accepting blood donations, but there are some COVID-19 restrictions in place. Call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to find out if you’re eligible.
For more information, watch the CBC News COVID-19 townhall.
Is it safe to take an elevator with other people, if they’re not wearing masks?
We continue to receive a lot of questions about physical distancing in small spaces. Dennis D. wants to know whether his 93-year-old father can take the elevator with other people who are not wearing masks.
Some experts suggest avoiding elevators when others are using them, but if you can’t wait for the next one, here are some tips:
- Spread out.
- Stand in opposite corners.
- Face away from others, because if someone sneezes or coughs, you can prevent potentially infected droplets from landing on your face and the mucosal membranes where the virus can get in.
“In your everyday scenario — people coughing or sneezing — [the virus] doesn’t actually get suspended in the air,” says Dr. Samir Gupta, respirologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto.
“It simply travels in these droplets,” he explained, “and these droplets will hit a surface or they’ll land on the ground, but they won’t stay suspended in the air.”
That said, you should assume that the floors, the walls and the buttons are contaminated, so don’t touch your face and wash your hands.
WATCH | How to avoid infection in an enclosed space:
Can I be evicted for not practising physical distancing?
Carolyn B. sent a video question from Halifax about whether her condo building can enforce visitation rules on residents.
Toronto-area lawyer Joe Nzemeke says it’s possible tenants who do not follow public health directives could get evicted because tenants and visitors “are obligated to protect others from danger, illegal acts and threats to health and safety.” However, many provinces have suspended evictions during the pandemic.
Patrick Cassidy, a partner at Сox & Palmer, a law firm that advises many condo corporations in Nova Scotia, says it’s unlikely anyone could be evicted for not practising physical distancing, because “you can’t put your building on lockdown.”
Cassidy advises condos to put up signs reminding everyone that physical distancing applies to common areas such as elevators and lobbies, and to close public amenities such as gyms and pools. “A condo building is like a small town, and its government is the board of directors, and they are doing the best that they can,” he said.
Carolyn B. also says it’s been tough living alone during the pandemic.
Toronto-area therapist Allan Findlay of New Insights Counselling says it can definitely be more stressful and lonely for people who live alone.
“Staying apart from those we care about goes against our human social instincts. We all need to feel connected and especially now when we are experiencing so much loss of control and change in routines,” Findlay said.
“Throughout difficult times in history, family members and friends have had to be separated from one another. However, this is a new experience for our generation. During times such as these, a willingness to sacrifice and a belief in a greater good can allow us to endure the distress of social isolation.”
Findlay says there are many creative ways to connect and communicate with friends and family electronically, adding it’s important to go outside, keep a routine, sleep well and do something everyday that’s enjoyable.
Most provinces and territories offer mental health crisis lines, in Nova Scotia the toll-free number is 1-888-429-8167.
We’re also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, an infectious disease specialist answered your questions about COVID-19 including whether the virus is likely to mutate and become more deadly. Watch below:
Wednesday we answered questions about food safety and fever-treating myths.
Keep your questions coming by emailing us at [email protected].