There are specific steps that Sarnia Lambton businesses can help to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the infection that began in mainland China and which has since found its way to North America and other regions of the world.

So says Lambton County’s medical officer of health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, who points to steps that can protect someone from influenza as being effective with this particular disease.

“Keep yourself as healthy as you can, get your flu shot, keep your immunizations up-to-date, wash your hands frequently, stay away from other people when you’re sick, cover your cough or sneeze to avoid contaminating other surfaces,” said Dr. Ranade.

Getting a flu shot is among the precautions that could be on a list, although it’s important to note there is no vaccine for the coronavirus or its variations.

“For local people, right now, there’s no recommendation other than do the things you would do to protect yourself from the regular flu season.”

As to the issue of the effectiveness of wearing a face mask, questions remain.

“In fact, there’s some suggestion that wearing a face mask while you’re healthy may put you at greater risk because you’re touching your face more often,” said Dr. Ranade.

The role of Lambton Public Health is to conduct surveillance for this type of disease, manage cases and contacts to prevent or control outbreaks and work with health system providers to ensure the community is prepared.

Lambton Public Health has also mobilized resources to be ready if needed.

“We’ve already got infection prevention and control, communicable disease control teams, and we’ve just made sure that they’re ready to go in case we need to start acting,” said Dr. Ranade.

It has been working with health system partners, including the hospital, “to have processes in place for diagnosis, testing and that type of thing,” he said.

Authorities are generally better prepared now than in 2003 when a provincial emergency was declared following a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, Ranade said.

The symptoms of the current virus can include fever and cough and are similar to other respiratory infections, such as flu.