SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- There are over 24 confirmed or presumed cases of covid-19 in Canada to date. While there aren't any cases present in the Maritimes, it's not an impossibility. So what can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones?

First things first, the age-old recommendation of handwashing remains in place.

"That's the fastest and best way to handle things," says Senior Watch president and CEO, Jean Porter, who has worked in senior care for three decades. "If you're touching a grocery cart, when you come home and unpack your groceries, wash your hands."

And health authorities agree, recommending people take the following precautions:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer
  • Coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue
  • Cleaning surfaces around the home and workplace frequently with a disinfectant
  • Staying at home, if sick, stay at home
  • Calling before visiting a doctor's office or hospital

"If we take those basic precautions; if we're not going out when we're ill, if we're washing our hands frequently, if we're taking good respiratory habits of covering our nose when we cough and sneeze – then people should be able to go about their daily business," says New Brunswick Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Cristin Muecke.

Currently, provincial governments in the Maritimes aren't recommending residents stockpile food. However, in the event of ill health, a typical 14 day preparedness kit would include:

  • Non perishable food (i.e. rice, grains and pasta)
  • Canned goods (i.e. soups and vegetables)
  • Water
  • Over the counter medications (i.e. pain relievers and cough suppressants)

Additionally, while masks have been touted as a protectant, the government of Canada notes they create a false sense of security and aren't necessary for healthy people. However, they are recommended for sick people to reduce the spread of disease.

Public health agencies strongly recommend consulting reputable websites when going online for health-related information.

Meanwhile, for Maritimers like Porter, staying healthy begins at the sink.

"I don't need a mask, I don't have to overreact," says Porter. "I just have to say 'my hands are touching things,' and then I don't touch my face with my hands."