Self-assessment for coronavirus? What it means and why it’s important

As Canada buckles down under a string of restrictions to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, doctors are asking Canadians to consider self-assessing for the illness as a first step.

Health ministries in provinces hit hardest by COVID-19 — including British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — are asking anyone who is concerned they have the virus to answer a series of questions at home before seeking further medical attention.

“These aren’t perfect tools, but they’re extremely helpful in getting people to understand what the risks are in the beginning and if they may or may not have the infection,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based out of Toronto General Hospital.

“It’s a good first approach. It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it’s an option for Canadians.”

Part of the emphasis being placed on the at-home assessment tools stems from keeping those with “really mild illnesses” out of overwhelmed emergency departments and clinics, according to Bogoch. It also plays a role in maintaining the social distancing practices being encouraged to stop the spread of infection.

“We want to avoid overcrowding in emergency departments and the possible transmission in emergency departments,” he said, adding that it’s also helpful to relieve some pressure on telephone lines.

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