Like the premier said, the coronavirus WILL come to the NWT, so we need to be prepared.
Last time I told you not to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, if you don’t want to infect yourself with germs you’ve picked up by touching infected areas.

So, who’s at risk of getting seriously sick from coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID 19? It appears that the most susceptible people are older persons and people with pre-existing medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes.

What does that mean? Well, if you’re over 60, like me, stay away from people. Get someone to bring you groceries so you don’t have to go out. And keep in touch with family and friends, with one of them as a contact in case of emergency.

And, that means kids too. They’re adorable and you love them, but they can also get you sick.

Why? Because the main way you’ll get sick is if a sick person coughs or sneezes on you or if you touch something a sick person coughed or sneezed on, then you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Not cool!

One of the problems with coronavirus is that it has the same symptoms as the flu, namely: fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Remember, symptoms don’t show up for five days after someone gets the virus, but they can still pass it on to you! Whoa.

What should you do if you have milder symptoms, like a fever and cough? Don’t just go to Emergency or a Health Center. Why? Because you can get other people sick.

Call first and tell them your symptoms so they can arrange to see you without exposing others. Tell them if you’ve travelled or were close to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
Here are the numbers to call: Yellowknife: 867-767-9120; Inuvik: 867-490 –2225 or 867-777-7246; Fort Smith: 867-872-6219 or 867-872-6221; Hay River: 867-874-7201. Other communities can call their local health centres at numbers found at,

If you have shortness of breath, call 911.

Here are some simple precautions to reduce chances of being infected or spreading the coronavirus.

Very important, regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub. Especially as soon as you get home – from anywhere.

Why? Because this will kill the virus germs that may be on your hands from touching something that was infected. Yay.

Do not shake hands with people. You’re thinking, “Whoa, you mean I shouldn’t shake hands with Joe Shmoe who I haven’t seen for two years?” Absolutely not, especially if you’re over 60. Why? Because someone who has germs on their hands will pass it to you by shaking hands.

I pretend everyone has the virus and can pass it to me. Instead of handshakes, I do a fist bump or an elbow bump. Eschia!

And, try to stay at least 6 feet away from people, especially from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? Well, because coughs or sneezes can spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus.

If you’re too close, you’ll breathe in the droplets, and get sick if the cougher is sick.
Like I said in my previous article, do not touch your face. Why? Because we touch many surfaces where the virus can be hiding. If our hands are contaminated, touching our eyes, nose or mouth allows the virus to enter our body and can make us sick.

Tell everybody to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or a bent elbow when they cough or sneeze and to dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? To protect people from viruses such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

If we’re sick

Here are some healthy practices so we don’t make others sick. Alright!

First of all, stay home if you’re sick. If you have to go out, wear a mask if you can get one, especially if you’re going to a waiting room or a crowd. And for heaven’s sake, avoid close contact with others if you can.

If you’re going to cough or sneeze, turn away from people and cover your nose and mouth with a disposable Kleenex or tissue. If you don’t have any tissues, cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Throw your used tissues/Kleenex into the garbage. If there’s no garbage can available, put your used tissues in a small plastic bag until you can put them into the garbage.

Wash your hands as soon as you can after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If you don’t have soap to wash your hands, rub your hands well with alcohol-based sanitizer.

Clean and disinfect anything in your home that you, or someone who was sick, might have touched while sick. You can use 4 or 5 tablespoons of bleach in a pail of water as disinfectant.

Hopefully, reading this helps reduce your risk of getting coronavirus when it gets to the North.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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