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What we’re learning about COVID-19

Knowledge about the coronavirus is growing
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
When it first began its spread around the world just a few short months ago, we didn’t know a lot about the potentially lethal COVID-19 virus. We knew it was a respiratory infection that was exceptionally contagious, and that countries impacted had to act quickly to take drastic measures to prevent its inevitable spread as best as possible. It became apparent that this virus was particularly lethal for people with weak immune systems, which includes many older people and those with pre-existing health conditions.

As a medical professional, I’ve had a lot of experience with infectious diseases, but I have never seen an infection like this spread around the globe with such unrelenting speed. I also work primarily with seniors, and have a lot of experience with outbreaks of illnesses that disproportionately target them. This experience, however, has been unprecedented.
“This emerging information is helping our long term care homes and retirement residences to further strengthen their outbreak protocols related to COVID-19.”
As the weeks go by though, our body of knowledge about the coronavirus is increasing. We know that physical distancing, together with proper hand hygiene, remain two of the most critical ways we can prevent its spread. We have learned that that many people carry the virus without ever having symptoms, which means they could spread the illness to a more vulnerable person without even knowing it. For those with symptoms, we now know that they aren’t necessarily the ‘typical’ ones – they may never have a fever or severe cough, but they may instead have nausea and vomiting, or a runny nose, muscle aches or sore throat.

This emerging information is helping our long term care homes and retirement residences to further strengthen their outbreak protocols related to COVID-19. For instance, all employees are now required to wear a mask at all times, something called universal masking. We screen all staff members and residents daily for any symptom, not just the ‘typical’ ones. And we continue to focus on physical distancing and hand hygiene best practices.

We will continue to adapt our practices as the world learns more about COVID-19, and wait anxiously with the rest of the world for a vaccine in, we hope, the not-too-distant future.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.