TORONTO -- With more than 83,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide and the World Health Organization raising its global risk assessment for contracting the illness to “very high,” health officials are advising people to prepare themselves for a potential pandemic.

Under the current global standards, people with suspected cases of COVID-19 are quarantined for 14 days. During this period, they’re not supposed to go out in public and interact with others for fear they will spread the respiratory virus.

This means that Canadians should have enough supplies in their home so they don’t have to leave at any time during a potential two-week quarantine period.

So how can you prepare? takes a look at some of the items that could be included in an emergency preparedness kit.


Dr. Ronald St. John, the former director-general of the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said it’s important for Canadians to think about what kind of food they need and would last for 14 days. He suggested the following items as examples.

  • Non-perishables: Rice, grains, pastas
  • Canned goods: Soups, vegetables, tomatoes
  • Fruits: Oranges and apples (good longevity if kept in a cool climate)
  • Snacks: Chips, crackers, nuts
  • Water (two litres per person per day)


In addition to food, St. John said Canadians should think about any medications they may need and visit their local pharmacy themselves or have someone else go for them to pick up items in advance.

  • If prescriptions are running low, restock them.
  • Any over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers, cough suppressants, antihistamines
  • First aid kit


While Canadians are at the pharmacy, there are a few other personal hygiene items that may be worth stocking up on before potentially being placed under quarantine.

  • Tissues
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Feminine care products
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish soap

As for face masks, Amy Greer, a Canada research chair in population disease modelling and associate professor at the University of Guelph, said Canadians don’t need to go out and buy them if they’re concerned about being quarantined.

“The average person doesn’t need to be stockpiling medical supplies like masks because their effectiveness is low,” she said. “We are already seeing problems with shortages of masks, which could lead to challenges for the people who actually need them the most.”

Instead, Greer said Canadians should develop a plan in case they or a family member is placed under quarantine so they will be prepared and not panicked.

“The thing to do is make a plan. What will you do if schools close? Will you be able to work from home? Do you have elderly family members who might need help? Those are things to think about now,” she said.

Baby items

St. John said Canadians shouldn’t forget about any other products they may need if they have a baby in the home. He said during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, a number of families under quarantine ran out of diapers and other such items during their isolation.

  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Baby food


As with babies, Canadians should also remember to think of their four-legged friends and their needs during quarantine.

  • Pet food
  • Cat litter

Other supplies

Dr. Neil Rau, a medical microbiologist at Halton Healthcare Services and CTV’s infectious diseases expert, said Canadians should always have an emergency preparedness kit at the ready.

“A preparedness kit is good at any time, in the winter you could have an ice storm and knock out your power,” he told on Friday.

According to Public Safety Canada, there are a number of essential items Canadians should keep in their homes in the event of an emergency.

  • Flashlights (with extra batteries)
  • Can opener
  • Radio (with extra batteries)
  • Extra keys for the home and vehicle
  • Cash, travellers’ cheques, and change
  • Important family documents, such as identification, insurance, bank records
  • Candles, matches, and a lighter

WHO recommendations

On Friday, the World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued 10 recommendations for how people can protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

They include:

  • Regularly washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub
  • Regularly cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant
  • Make sure information you’re receiving about the infection comes from reliable sources
  • Avoid travelling if you have a fever or cough
  • Make sure to sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue
  • Take extra precautions if you’re 60 years old or older, such as avoiding crowded areas
  • If you feel unwell, stay home and call your local doctor
  • If you are sick, stay home, sleep away from your family, and use different utensils than your family members
  • If you experience shortness of breath, immediately call your doctor and seek treatment
  • Discuss how to stay safe with your work, school or community grouping