Isolation: the new challenge for roommates

In large cities, where several people live with one or more roommates, the spread of COVID-19 makes it difficult for people to know what to do if someone has to stay in a shared home.
For Lebni Avitia, video editor in Toronto, the pandemic has exacerbated the daily stress of living in a confined space with several people.

Avitia suffers from a heart condition that puts him at a higher risk of complications if he gets the coronavirus, but says it still took time to hammer out his roommates to take social distance from him. serious.

At the start of the week, her roommates were still going out to crowded restaurants, despite increasingly harsh warnings from public health officials to stay home.

“It was embarrassing when I realized [they weren’t staying with us],” said Avitia. When they told me that, I sent a message in a group conversation basically saying, “I plan to stay indoors, I hope we can all do the same.”

It was not too difficult to be frank with her two roommates, but it was to communicate it to someone the trio was hosting. She left the apartment every day to see her girlfriend and mother.

“I understand, but who knows what the people you visit are doing,” says Avitia. If you go out and then you’re here with all of us, who knows what can be passed on? ”

Statistics Canada does not have specific data on the number of Canadians living with roommates, but according to the 2016 census, there were approximately 582,000 “non-family households of two or more people” in the country, or approximately 4.1 % of all households.

In Toronto, the rate is 6.1%, and 7.3% in Vancouver.

Permanent cleaning

On its website, Public Health Ontario says that to properly insulate yourself in a shared residence, you have to stay as much as possible in a separate room and use a bathroom separate from the others, which is not always a option.

The agency recommends that shared spaces like kitchens should have good air circulation. Surfaces should be cleaned after each use – a practice that Avitia said it has already established with its roommates.

She also says to keep a distance of two meters between people and to wear a face mask, if possible.

Mr. Avitia did not consider what he and his roommates would do if one of them were to isolate themselves. At this point, he said he plans to temporarily return to his parents’ home in Niagara Falls.

Not all people living in shared accommodation find it difficult to organize self-isolation.

Vivian George, who works in the film and television industry in Toronto, finds managing his own period of self-isolation was fairly straightforward, despite the fact that his roommate is in his 60s.

She says the apartment is already too small for them to use common areas like the kitchen at the same time.

Ms. George adds that she has spent most of her time in her bedroom in the past 10 days, after developing flu-like symptoms.

She leaves the room only to pick up groceries that her friends have left or to use the microwave.

“I make sure he’s not there. If he’s there, I’m waiting for him to leave, says George, who is trying to hold back his cough until she’s back in her room.

Her roommate, although at risk because of her age, is not too bothered by the spread of COVID-19, said Mrs. George.

According to her, the irritating side is being confined to her room, most of the time.

“It’s like living on a tourist bus or something and having to stay around,” said Ms. George.

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