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Guide to not inviting COVID-19 to your home during the holidays | Coronavirus


A lot of this information is not clear in people’s heads. I get it, people are lost in it all, recognizes Dr. Anne Bhéreur. It is in this spirit that she and her colleagues from the group Pop Quebec (New window) (Protect our province Quebec) have developed their guide to help the public better understand COVID-19.

People are tired and they want to see each other. But I find it so important that people have the concrete means to protect themselves, she explains.

All of the recommendations in the guide are based on science and many studies.

Their approach is not unique. The COVID-Stop collective, which brings together doctors and scientists, has also published a guide for a healthy holiday season.

These are easy-to-apply protective measures to protect your loved ones, friends and colleagues, says Nimâ Machouf, epidemiologist and lecturer at the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal.

These experts recall that health measures have not changed with the arrival of the Omicron variant; however, they must be better applied to reduce the spread of this much more contagious variant.

They evoke in particular the Swiss cheese model, which illustrates why a single type of intervention will never be sufficient to slow down the spread, each one having its faults, whether it is with the wearing of a mask, vaccination, or even in the application. different containment measures.

That is why all the slices of the cheese – all the interventions – are important. By superimposing them all – by combining a series of interventions – the cheese is more waterproof. The more layers, the more protection there is, and the less virus passes through the cracks.

Here’s how to use some of those cheese slices to keep yourself safe this holiday season.

An image showing that several types of intervention are needed to defend against COVID-19

This version is an adaptation of the model created by Professor James T. Reason in 1990. In a more recent version, the “border control” layer has been added.

Photo: Queensland University / Ian MacKay

Reduce gatherings, multiply rapid tests

First of all, it should be remembered that in most provinces, gatherings are limited (notably to 10 or less in Quebec, or even to five people in Kingston, Ontario).

If you come together, the experts suggest:

  • limit the number of guests;
  • promote outdoor gatherings;
  • ensure a certain physical distance;
  • offer what is needed to encourage guests to respect public health measures (water, soap, hand sanitizer, additional masks).

Ideally, doing a quick test right before a date is a good way to reduce your risk. Rapid self-tests can detect whether a person is infectious at the time it is performed (so it is not valid for the following days). It should also be avoided outside where it is cold.

But the most important thing, says Nimâ Machouf, is to stay home if you have symptoms.

Do you wonder about the risk for you and your guests of receiving unvaccinated people? You can use this COVID-19 exposure risk calculator during visits (New window), designed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of Ryerson University, Toronto.

Do not hesitate to ventilate the premises

One of the most important things to consider is the ventilation of confined spaces, say experts from both groups.

SARS-CoV-2 is spread not only by large droplets when sneezing or coughing, but also by aerosols, which are breathed out when speaking or singing. Thus, the virus can remain suspended in the air we breathe for several minutes, even several hours, like second-hand smoke, explains Nimâ Machouf.

This is why we must consider each guest as a smoker who exhales potentially contagious aerosols, adds Nancy Delagrave. The more virus you breathe in, the more likely you are to develop the disease.

It is not necessary to have an industrial ventilation system to properly ventilate your home.

Here are some game-changing tips:

  • favor large rooms and high ceilings;

  • turn on your range hood and bathroom fan;

  • open a window or door for a few minutes every hour;

  • ask guests to close the toilet lid before flushing the toilet (yes, the virus can hide in our feces (New window)).

If you want to use an air purifier, experts say it’s best if it has a high efficiency particulate matter (HEPA) filter.

Tara Kahan, atmospheric chemist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan, adds that it’s best to go for ozone- and ion-free purifiers. There’s no evidence that it adds to the effectiveness, she says, adding that this type of purifier emits product into the air, and that’s not necessarily good for you.

On your masks!

At the end of November, the Government of Canada changed its recommendations on which types of masks to use.

In general, although non-medical masks [en tissu] can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, medical masks and respirators (N95 / KN95) provide better protection, indicates the government.

A non-medical mask should fit snugly and consist of multiple layers, at least two of which are made of a tight, breathable fabric like cotton and an effective filtering mid-layer.

The government also recalls that face shields, neck warmers and scarves are not recommended face coverings.

A respirator mask (N95 / KN95) worn in the community does not need a formal fit test.

It is suggested to ask unvaccinated people to wear a mask to reduce the risk of infection.


Vaccination is a very important way to reduce the risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19, recalls the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). This is why the authorities recommend that the maximum of your guests be vaccinated.

Remember that unvaccinated Canadians aged 12 to 59 are 32 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people; that’s 16 times more for people over 60.

the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Also recommends a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all Canadians 18 years of age and over who have received their second dose for at least six months. the National Advisory Committee on Immunization insists strongly so that those 50 and over receive this booster dose.

Why? Because there are signs that the vaccination appears to partially protect against the severe symptoms caused by the Omicron variant, but this protection is not as effective as for the other variants.

The efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine against severe symptoms thus increases from over 90% (for the Delta variant) to 70% when confronted with the Omicron variant.

The vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infection with the Omicron variant is almost zero for people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and less than 40% for those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. .

A booster dose, however, would increase protection against infection to 75%.

Each province has a different vaccination strategy, so the booster dose is not yet available to all Canadians.

For example, in Quebec, people 65 and over can get their third dose as of December 20; 60-64 year olds from December 27. The minimum interval between the administration of the second and third dose is reduced from six to three months.

Starting December 20, Ontarians 18 and older will be able to receive a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The minimum interval between the second and third dose should be three months.

Travel, at your own risk

Ottawa does not recommend that Canadians take non-essential stays abroad. Canadians who travel could contract the virus and find themselves stranded abroad in difficult conditions, the government said.

Faced with the rise in cases, countries are announcing new measures daily for both travelers and their citizens. Thus, travelers could find themselves either quarantined or faced with numerous closures and restrictions in the country in question.

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