(Alvor, Portugal, the village Janice Blain left behind, now in lock down mode due to stringent measures imposed by the Portuguese government to limit the spread of COVID-19. Photo: Janice Blain)
Stittsville resident, Janice Blain, recently returned home from a vacation in Portugal when the call went out for Canadians to return home. This is her story of return to Canada.
Each day when I wake without a fever, cough or difficulty breathing I am thankful. Each night when I go to bed symptom free, I feel blessed. But this is only day 5, and I have 9 more to go before I can breathe that sigh of relief having, against all odds (being at Heathrow Airport full of European passengers and on a plane packed full of potential carriers), dodged the Coronavirus. Or have I?
Self isolating for 14 days after my premature departure from Portugal via England, I have to admit that I’m finding it difficult to maintain the precautionary measures that I was practising while abroad and in transit. There I felt so vulnerable. Home again, I feel safe and yet this can only be a false sense of security and the vigilance must continue.
Evidently one can have COVID-19 without exhibiting any symptoms and therefore be a carrier, and it could more than 14 days before I am in the clear. We are constantly learning, as information and guidelines change, and what may be correct one day, could be amended the next. Conflicting information and lack of information only adds to the confusion and fear felt by us all.
But is is such a joy and relief to be back in Stittsville. Especially as my neighbour is allowing me to piggy back on her internet service until my own is reconnected. Without contact with the world at large I would not be a happy camper. With information and contacts at my fingertips and the support of family, friends and neighbours for food deliveries and chats through the window or on the phone, living in self isolation without symptoms is not so different to social distancing. I am so thankful for the help and support I am receiving right now, without this community spirit I would be lost.
However, one thing still haunts me. On arrival at Toronto Pearson airport last Monday, there was no screening of those coming from abroad and the handout we were given (Public Health Agency of Canada) was very scant on information. One crucial question, that was not addressed was — how were we supposed to safely transfer from the airport to home if not driving ourselves?
Once home, having been driven by a friend in his car, I consulted various public health websites and finally discovered how we SHOULD have handled the homecoming drive. Perhaps this knowledge is more widely known now, but for those picking up family or friends from the airport, please take note.
People arriving from outside Canada, but not driving themselves home, are advised to wear a mask and drive with the windows open. Most people abroad were not able to purchase masks. So if you are picking up someone arriving from overseas and you have a mask, take it with you for them to wear and keep the car windows open.
On a lighter note, this is a story relating to the question of if we should be out walking or not. (But that is a whole can of worms I will avoid, due to conflicting information). Instead, I will share a news item heard in England.
Evidently, in Spain now, due to the Coronavirus and a nationwide quarantine, you are only allowed outside if you are walking a dog. As a result people are “borrowing” their neighbour’s dog but now the dogs are literally digging in their heels and refusing to go. All the walking has worn them out!
Take care, stay safe and if you are out walking, do avoid intersections with traffic lights, where you have to touch and press a “walk” button. After all, these days, there is little traffic to prevent you from crossing anywhere along the road, even on Stittsville Main Street!
Perhaps we should start making lists of the positive outcomes of COVID-19?