Washing your hands frequently when you’re out and about is one of the ways you should be protecting yourself from COVID-19. (file photo)

Now is not the time to slack off on virus prevention

Now is not the time to be less careful, now is the time to be more careful.

With more and more things opening up after months of shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to relax as things around us start to feel more normal. There are far more vehicles on the roads again, and people are out in our communities walking down the streets, sometimes stopping to chat with friends. Our favourite stores are open and we can sit down at a restaurant for a meal (though it will likely be outdoors).

The sun is shining and the birds are singing.

RELATED: Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

These things are all wonderful to see once more and are doing good things for our collective mental health. But it makes it all too easy to forget that the pandemic isn’t over yet. There are new cases still being reported daily, though the numbers are far smaller than they used to be, at least in Canada, and especially in B.C. New cases on Vancouver Island in the last two months number in the single digits.

But it’s dangerous for us to get complacent.

Worldwide, the pandemic is worsening. Numbers in other countries are skyrocketing, including in the U.S., our nearest neighbour. Therein lies a cautionary tale about what can happen when we don’t take the precautions we should all still be following. These include physical distancing of two metres (six feet) from all those outside your now expanded bubble; frequent handwashing if you’ve been out in public places; use of hand sanitizer if you can’t wash with soap and water; keeping your hands away from your face; and wearing a mask if you are in close proximity to others, especially indoors.

You must still stay at home if you feel in any way unwell, and strictly observe quarantine if you are coming home from a trip outside our borders.

With more people out and about our chances of catching or spreading COVID-19 have again risen, so it is more important now to observe the preventive measures we’ve adopted than ever. We do not want to find ourselves in a situation where we must lock down again because our infection rates threaten our safety and ability to provide health care.

It can happen painfully easily, with just one infected individual, who may not even know they’re sick, having the ability to spread the virus far, fast and wide if we are cavalier about personal protective measures.

RELATED: District of Tofino encourages residents to wear masks

We are told a second wave of the infection is still likely. We will be much less hard hit if we can stay vigilant, even as we enjoy more normalcy.

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