A little guide to a safe Christmas

Some people cling to Christmas like a lifeline in a storm. Others see the COVID-19 pandemic as a good pretext to avoid stuffing yourself with traditional turkey and a string of family reunions. And there are those who no longer know what to do with. A little guide to a safe holiday season. A text by Marie-Eve Cousineau.

A party or not?

The Quebec government allows gatherings of 10 people maximum from December 24 to 27. In theory, each citizen could therefore see 40 different people in four days. Public Health strongly advises against it. According to the authorities, the ideal is to participate in only one gathering during this period. There is even better, say experts: celebrate Christmas at home with your immediate loved ones.

“When you look at it from a transmission risk point of view, do not organize party is the safest way to do it, says Dre Caroline Quach-Thanh, microbiologist-infectious disease specialist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center. Now we must also take into account the need to come together. “

For epidemiologist Benoît Mâsse, people should ask themselves the following question: what is my level of risk tolerance? Do you feel comfortable inviting your 80-year-old mother to the gathering, knowing that the risks of serious complications are higher if she contracts COVID-19?

“If ever my mother-in-law comes here, we have [la COVID-19] and she falls seriously ill, we will find out what the source of infection is: the holiday supper, says Benoît Mâsse, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal. [Personnellement], I don’t want my children to feel guilty. I don’t want them to go through this. “


“The idea is to get to party Christmas with the least possible risk of having been infected in the last two weeks ”, explains the Dre Caroline Quach-Thanh.

It is therefore necessary to reduce as much as possible the contacts in the 14 days preceding the festival. “If we are able to telework all the time, it’s easy,” notes the doctor. The difficulty is when people are forced to work outside. She recommends that the latter wear the mask indoors “at all times”. “When we take off our mask to eat or drink, we are ideally alone in our office,” she explains. Otherwise, two meters from the person closest to you. “

A masked Christmas

Public Health, which is concocting a guide on the art of hospitality at home in times of pandemic, recommends that guests wear a mask (except, of course, when eating or drinking) and stay two meters away from them. from each other.

Grandparents and the elderly, who are at greater risk of suffering from a severe form of the disease, must stay away from others to avoid becoming infected. They also refrain from holding their descendants in their arms – cute as they are.

Chronic illnesses?

Hosts usually ask their guests if they have any food allergies. This year, they should also inquire about their medical conditions, according to Benoît Mâsse. Individuals with diabetes or lung disease, as well as people with immunosuppression (e.g. liver transplant recipients) are more likely to develop severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“We must take care of these vulnerable people”, such as the elderly, underlines the Dre Marie-France Raynault, Head of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the CHUM. Distancing measures and wearing a mask are therefore all the more important.

Open windows

The guests may need a little wool on New Years Eve. According to Public Health, it is better to keep the windows ajar to improve ventilation. “A house is worse than a school,” says the Dr Quoc Dinh Nguyen, geriatrician specializing in epidemiology who practices at the CHUM. It’s smaller. “

No song to answer

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin trudeau, said, winter will be “boring”. And Christmas will be a bit too. Forget about karaoke. “Singing and shouting should be avoided,” says the Dre Marie-France Raynault. And it’s best to keep the volume of the music low enough so that people don’t have to raise their voices. Otherwise, we sput more, which helps to spread the virus.

The meal

A buffet is possible, believes the Dre Marie-France Raynault. As long as only one person does the service. The Dre Caroline Quach-Thanh recommends going there by “table”: the youngest, the most vulnerable, etc.

Gifts ? Of course !

” The transmission [de la COVID-19] by objects is a more theoretical risk than anything else, ”says Dre Marie-France Raynault. However, she recommends that people wash their hands frequently during the gathering. Hosts should also make disinfectant gel available to guests, especially at the entrance to the house.

And the sleep?

Sleeping with a loved one is allowed provided that the rules of physical distancing are scrupulously observed and that the stay is as short as possible, indicates Public Health. Spending the night elsewhere is better than driving with too high a blood alcohol level. Operation Red Nose will not be offering a service this year.

Be careful not to extend your stay too much the next day, says the Dre Marie-France Raynauld. Why ? Isn’t one evening enough to infect someone? “If it was measles, I would tell you that for sure you would have already been infected [la veille], she replies. But not with COVID-19. You may not have been infected and four more hours will make a difference. “

A guest register

The host or hostess should take note of the name, address and phone number of people at the party. “It will make life easier for Public Health”, if COVID-19 is invited in the evening, indicates the Dre Marie-France Raynault.

But guests should be warned in advance: if they have any doubts about their health, they stay at home. “Even if we are tempted to go there, then we say to ourselves ‘usually, I would go, I would take Tylenol’, we refrain from going, says the Dre Caroline Quach-Thanh. We stay at home to protect others. “

A camper’s Christmas?

Benoît Mâsse fully intends to celebrate Christmas with his elderly parents… on July 24th. By then, they will have been vaccinated against COVID-19. “We can have a big barbecue outside,” he said. They will be more relaxed. “

The Dr Quoc Dinh Nguyen also encourages seniors to reunite with their families this summer. At least, those who can wait and don’t live in isolation. “We have a vaccine coming,” said the geriatrician. The next Christmas therefore has a good chance, he continues, to unfold like in the good old days. “It gives meaning to all this sacrifice. “

With Marco Bélair-Cirino

Key period for gatherings, says Quebec

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