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If you’re not feeling well, stay home. It’s a simple message, yet many people seem not to understand. Last week, my family and I got hit by a bad case of RSV. It took its sweet time leaving our home, giving me time to reflect on how important it is to stay out of circulation when you’re sick.
I had several in-person work and personal commitments I cancelled as the week went on, both because of how I was feeling and out of consideration for others. Was it easy to do so? No. But I knew it was the responsible move. Our health-care system is bursting at the seams, especially pediatric hospitals and clinics. Best to do what we each can to not spread viruses around.
Children are getting all genres of colds, flu, RSV, and other circulating viruses. And by children, I also mean their parents, siblings, grandparents and others they come into contact with.
I recently shared my frustration at people not masking when they felt sick. Now I’ll take that a step further. It’s necessary to stay home not only if you have COVID, but also if you are sick with some other respiratory virus. Period. End of discussion.
We’re still relatively early on in this cold/flu season. If we’re going to get through it, we need to show some level of collective responsibility. If you cough and must go out, wear a mask. Use curbside pickup or grocery delivery. Don’t go to the grocery store, cough, and sneeze all over the produce. As ridiculous as it may sound, I have witnessed this multiple times.
Yes, mandates are gone, and we all want to move on with our lives. However, that does not give us a licence to be irresponsible or selfish when it comes to exposing others to germs, if even they are not COVID.
Of course, for many of us, staying home also means staying home from work. Those going into a workplace while sick put their coworkers at risk, and ultimately have an impact on the productivity of the workplace as a whole.
I acknowledge, though, that this is easier for some of us than for others. Some of us still work from home part-time in a hybrid model, but not everyone is so lucky.
And for some, taking time off work when sick has a financial impact. Unfortunately, only some have paid sick days beyond the two paid days annual Quebec workers are entitled to (and that’s two more paid days than are available in some provinces). It’s awful to need to take time off for your health but realize that you might not be able to make ends meet if you do.
I was glad to learn that new federal legislation comes into effect Dec. 1 that requires some employers to provide their workers with 10 paid sick days a year. This, however only applies to federally regulated sectors, such as banking, telecommunications and interprovincial transportation. So it will only have an impact for six per cent of Canadian employees. We still have a long way to go.
A 2020 Statistics Canada report indicated that just over 50 per cent of workers who had worked in the past two years had access to paid sick leave at their most recent job. However, that proportion among temporary workers is lower, at only 40 per cent.
If the past two or three years have taught us anything, it’s not to take our health or that of our loved ones for granted, and that protecting health is essential.
So why do we fall so easily into old habits where spreading sickness is concerned and drop our hard-learned pandemic health habits so quickly? I hoped we would have been better than that.
Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and editor in chief of CanadianMomEh.com, a lifestyle blog.
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Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed: If you’re sick, please stay home
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