Coronavirus: Self-isolating in a small space during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus: Self-isolating in a small space during COVID-19 pandemic

A lot of Canadians have been hunkered down at home heeding warnings from public health officials about social or physical distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For many, the reality of self-isolation is being confined to cramped quarters in condominiums.

Brooke Crewson and her partner live in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit in downtown Toronto. Neither has been asked to enter into self-isolation, but they have had to make adjustments to their lifestyle.

Crewson works at Ryerson University and is also a part-time MBA student. She, like many other Canadians, is working from home.

Her partner works the night shift at a hotel, one of the businesses deemed ‘essential’ by the province of Ontario.

“The home is no longer just your home. It’s your office space. It’s your gym. It’s your school,” said Crewson.

Their condominium has chosen to shut down amenities, for the time being, including the gym.

“For me, finding ways to stay physically active has been really important for my mental health,” she said. “One day, I climbed about 25 flights of stairs.”

With limited square footage in their suite, Crewson has considered moving in with her parents, in the event one of them were ever asked to self-isolate.

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“My parents live fairly close. Like, an hour and a half outside of the city, so I would have to go stay with them…we live in a very open-concept space.”

When asked about the idea of temporarily relocating, Humber River Hospital chief of staff Dr. Michael Gardam offered a few words of caution.

“People have done that. You just want to make sure that the person who’s moving out to go into the parents’ house, that they’re not sick with this because they could have very mild symptoms and now they’re going to infect the parents.”

Gardam, who is a condo dweller himself, said he believes condominium boards that have not already shut down amenities, should do so.

“There’s ample examples from the media in the last 72 hours that not everybody’s as responsible as everybody else. It’s very hard to police that. It’s going to cost the condo board a lot of money to have a security guard standing outside of the sauna all day to see how many people are in it.”

Currently, Toronto Public Health advised individuals who are self-isolating and living with others, to stay in a separate room, away from others as much as possible.

They also said to ensure any shared spaces have good air flow.

If you have to be in a room with others, TPH urges you to maintain the recommended two-metre distance, and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

“If you’re in a one-bedroom condo with one bath and there’s two or three of you there and you’re trying to isolate yourself, it’s truly almost impossible,” said Gardam.

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“It really comes down to protecting your little group of people from the outside world. That’s the one that I think really matters. And so, do all of you need to go grocery shopping? Do all of you need to go out all the time?”
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