In light of the pandemic of COVID-19, a rapidly spreading flu-like virus affecting the respiratory system, public health officials are increasingly calling for people to work from home, for self-isolation, and for social distancing (maintaining distance both between individuals and collectively, by cancelling large events and closing down busy public places). We felt it important to take this opportunity to speak to our friends, family and neighbours with precarious immigration status: those who can’t stay home from work; those who have no paid sick leave or who work at jobs with no health and safety precautions; those whose immigration status complicates their access to healthcare; those who are often employed in the cleaning and sanitary positions that are so crucial in this moment of crisis; and those locked in the cages of the immigration detention centre. We are also thinking of our Indigenous community members who are similarly facing layers of discrimination both in the healthcare system and everyday life.
We are thinking and caring about all of you, your health and well-being, and we put these few words forward to combat fear and call for love and solidarity in a moment that no doubt might worsen already existing feelings of stress, isolation, and fear. Today, we are sharing some practical information about getting tested and treated if you are non status. We also want to suggest some simple ways that we can all look out for one another. In the days to come after conversations with our allies across the country, we will be sending a release concerning our political demands. We will continue to update you the best we can as the situation evolves.
Healthcare Access (Can I get tested? How can I get treated?)
Public health officials have announced that everyone is able to access free COVID-19 testing whether or not they have public healthcare and whatever their status. At the moment, to get free testing,
1) You first have to call 1-877-644-4545. If you are asked for your RAMQ card and you don’t have one, just say you don’t have one and they should continue with the preliminary screening. The nurse doing the phone evaluation will evaluate if there is a significant risk that it’s coronavirus. If they believe there is, they will refer you for a test at a special clinic.
2) If you have been referred after a phone evaluation, you can go to the special clinic. Again, if anyone at the special clinic asks you for a RAMQ card, you can simply say you don’t have one. People who have no health coverage should be accepted in the special clinic for everything related to COVID-19, whatever their status. If you would like to be accompanied, please let us know and we will arrange accompaniment. We will continue to send updates as the situation evolves.
Here are a couple of additional tips for keeping yourself, our community and loved ones safe:
- If you do not have status and have symptoms such as a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing, please get in touch immediately with us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can support you in whatever way possible. We are organizing to accompany people to access health services and will also work on public fundraising for sick non-status community members who risk being fired from their jobs without compensation.
- Watch out for your friends and loved ones. Let’s all take care of each other and stay in touch.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- If you use public transit, make sure to wash your hands before and after.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or a tissue.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
- When possible, try social distancing (maintaining 2 metre or 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing). Try using alternative modes of greetings (a wave or a nod for example).
- Finally, please take special precautions if you are older or have a serious chronic medical condition as you are particularly at risk.
- Keep track of public health notices and other ways to reduce risk here: https://www.quebec.ca/sante/problemes-de-sante/a-z/coronavirus-2019/
What should I do if I start to feel ill?
- Self-isolate. This means staying in a separate room from other people, and avoiding any direct contact with them wherever possible.
- If you live with others, disinfect your washroom with a bleach based cleaning product every day.
- If your symptoms get worse, or you start to feel difficulty breathing, contact 1-877-644-4545.
How will this impact Solidarity Across Borders’ Events?
We have started to have conversations about how COVID-19 will impact our organizing. This email is a first step towards greater awareness in the SAB network. We will make sure to communicate any changes to our regular events as we start to have more conversations about COVID-19 internally.
Here are some more resources if you would like to read more about COVID-19:
WHO Advice for the Public
A handy flyer to give to your neighbours about COVID-19 if you want to connect and you want to encourage mutual aid during quarantine
For allies and those who want to help, here are some of the solidarity actions being carried out in the community. Please write us at email@example.com. if you are able to help out with any of the below. If you feel comfortable, you can also sign up here (link).
– Food drop offs;
– Running any errands;
– Accompanying someone to a health appointment;
– Taking kids to any appointment they might have;
– Walking someone’s dog;
– Providing moral support / social support (for people who would like to talk to someone in person or by phone while in self-isolation);
Again, if you do not have status and have symptoms such as a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing, or are self-isolating and need any of the above services offered by the allies, please get in touch immediately with us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can support you in whatever way possible.
We will be in touch soon. Sending love and solidarity to everyone.