ONWA Memo: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

ONWA Memo: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

by ahnationtalk on March 12, 2020706 Views

ONWA Memo: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Dear Community Members,

We wanted to take some time to provide our community members and partners with information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and what we at the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) are doing in response.

ONWA is built on the premise of creating safe spaces for all Indigenous Women, their families, community partners and employees. Safety has always been and will continue to remain our priority.

From the onset of the coronavirus, we have been actively working to gather information from the World
Health Organization (https://www.who.int/) and Public Health Agency of Canada
(https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html) as well as other resources, to ensure we have the most current information available.

These are some basic protective measures that everyone can do:

  1. Wash your hands frequently: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  2. Maintain social distancing: Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth: Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  4. Practice respiratory hygiene: Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early: Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

ONWA is also providing constant updates of COVID-19 to our employees, in addition to some training on working in a safe manner.

Our team is actively engaged within the communities we serve and across the province. While the coronavirus is currently being controlled within Ontario, it is paramount we provide our team with guidance on how to protect themselves which ultimately protects our community members. As an organization, we have regular cleaning and sanitization of local offices and have introduced additional measures to increase the cleanliness of these areas. This includes daily wipe downs of all public spaces, door knobs, washrooms, water coolers, community kitchens, meeting rooms, offices, computers, phones and chairs using medical grade disinfectant and medical grade sanitizing wipes. All staff of ONWA are provided with anti-bacterial hand gel to use, when hand washing is not available. Any staff who come to work with flu like symptoms, will be asked to go home.

To support our community members, ONWA staff who conduct home visits and community workshops, will contact community members ahead of time to confirm the visit and will inquire if any community members and members of the family, are experiencing flu like symptoms. If so, community members will be encouraged to re-schedule their visit with us. As we work with many young children and Elders, we need to take extra pre-cautionary measures that keeps them safe. Any community members who show up to work shops with flu like symptoms will also be asked to re-schedule and assisted to return home at no cost to the community member.

We hope this continues to give you the reassurance and confidence in our actions we are taking on your behalf. We are fully committed to providing all community members supportive and safe services.



Canada’s health system is ready to respond to cases that arise in Canada, but it is important that individuals and communities are ready if there is widespread illness here at home.

Plan Ahead

Take time to consider what you will do if you or a family member becomes sick and needs care. Think about:

  • What food and household supplies you need for you and your family
  • What medicines you need, including renewing and refilling prescriptions ahead of time

Discuss your plans with your family, friends and neighbours, and set up a system to check in on each other by phone, email or text during times of need.

Get Prepared

Have supplies on hand so you do not need to leave your home if you become ill. Add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. This places less of a burden on suppliers, and can help ease financial burden on you as well.

Stock up on:

  • Dried pasta and rice
  • Pasta sauces
  • Canned soups, vegetables and beans
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Thermometer
  • Diapers
  • Soap
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Fever-reducing medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen for adults and children)
  • Facial tissue
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Household bleach
  • Household cleaning products

Stay Healthy and Limit Spread

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Sneeze or cough into your arm or sleeve.
  • Consider a wave or elbow bump in place of a handshake, hug or kiss.
  • Reduce your exposure to crowded places by shopping or using transit during non-peak hours.
  • Encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.
  • If you become ill, stay home until you are no longer showing symptoms. Contact your health care professional or local public health authority and tell them your symptoms. They will give you advice about what to do next.

Stay Informed

For more information on coronavirus:
canada.ca/coronavirus | [email protected]


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