No one likes to think that what happens in a place half a world away could possibly affect them.
But this is exactly what has happened with the new coronavirus epidemic that began in Wuhan, China, and is now making its way around the world… even all the way here in Ontario.
To date, Ontario has the bulk of the 35 confirmed coronavirus cases reported throughout Canada.
Recently, the New York Times posed two timely questions.
Here in Canada, what did we learn from the 2003 SARS outbreak? How will we do better this time to protect ourselves and limit our exposure?
We are getting calls from customers who want to know if upgrading their furnace filter will protect them from coronavirus. Will this work? Read on to find out.
How is Coronavirus Transmitted?
Coronavirus is not a single virus but actually a family of viruses.
The latest coronavirus is actually a variant of SARS. Researchers have named the novel (new) coronavirus CoV-SARS-2.
The illness that CoV-SARS-2 causes is now being called COVID-19.
From what researchers know thus far, coronavirus 2019 is primarily transmitted in three ways:
- Through the air
- Through touching an infected person
- Through touching a contaminated surface
What Are the Health Symptoms of Coronavirus?
According to Health Canada, COVID-19 can cause the following health symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Secondary infections
Once a person has been exposed to CoV-SARS-2, it can take up to 14 days before they experience health symptoms. However, that person can transmit the virus to other people even if they don’t have any symptoms themselves.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Here in Canada?
There is a lot you can do to protect yourself from exposure to coronavirus.
1. Keep everything clean – especially your hands
One of the top recommendations to protect yourself against COVID-19 is also one of the oldest: wash your hands.
Global News Canada says that soap is still one of the best ways to neutralize harmful pathogens.
But if you want more than just soap, the U.S. Center for Biocide Chemistries has published a list of recommended cleaning and sanitation products that can be effective against coronavirus-19.
You may want to add some of these products to your shopping list.
2. Take extra precautions when at work or in public areas
When you are in public areas, and especially if you need to visit a health clinic or hospital, you can take some extra precautions to reduce your risk of exposure to coronavirus.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends use of gloves and N95 face masks, and excellent hand hygiene to guard against exposure.
As well, it is important not to share drinks or food, including straws and cutlery. Refrain from handling public materials like magazines in a doctor’s waiting room.
When greeting people, skip the handshake to contain the risk. If you do need to have physical contact with other people or shared surfaces, use disinfectants like hand sanitizer or soap immediately afterward.
If you do feel ill, it is best for everyone’s sake if you stay home. If you are concerned about exposure to an ill co-worker, ask your employer about working from home until the threat passes.
3. Keep your immune system strong
Stress, worry and anxiety can wreak havoc on your immune system. While it is not easy to avoid worrisome news about new cases of coronavirus here in Canada, the extra stress isn’t going to do you any favors.
Rather, channel that nervous energy into taking action. Load up on vitamin C and zinc. Try to get at least seven or eight hours of high-quality sleep each night. Drink plenty of water. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
And when you feel tempted to check the news, have a list of other things you can do with that time to avoid feeding your anxiety with scary stories.
Why Cleaner Indoor Air Is Important to Protect Against Coronavirus
The primary way that COVID-19 is spread is airborne. Research shows ultraviolet light can neutralize SARS coronavirus germs.
Similar research confirms indoor air filtration can have benefits in containing your risk.
Can Upgrading Your Furnace Filter Guard Against Coronavirus?
Some furnace filters can be at least partially effective at filtering out micro-pathogens like the coronavirus.
However, most existing residential furnaces are not built to work well with these high-grade filters.
The densest furnace filters, like MERV 17 to 20-rated filters and HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, will restrict airflow to the point at which the furnace blower may overheat trying to do its job.
This then turns your furnace itself into a home fire risk.
Luckily, you have two effective alternatives that can be retrofitted to work with any existing furnace and A/C system, whether central (ducted) or non-ducted.
We frequently work with our sister company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, to retrofit our clients’ HVAC systems for better indoor air quality.
HEPA air filtration system
There are two basic types of HEPA air filtration systems. Central systems can be retrofitted to work seamlessly with your home’s duct system. Portable systems can be moved from room to room in non-ducted spaces.
HEPA air filters are used in hospitals and laboratories all around the world. The same basic type of filtration technology is incorporated into N95 face masks.
Ultraviolet air purification system
Ultraviolet light is still the most powerful purifying agent on the planet. UV band C is the most powerful of all the ultraviolet light bands, and this is what ultraviolet air purifiers use to clean your indoor air.
UV air purification systems also come in central or portable models.