Public health officials ask people to stick to own households, worrying those who live alone

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Stephanie Belding’s two-person social bubble with a friend who lives alone in the same building has provided a significant boost to her emotional well-being during COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

(Nicole Ireland/ CBC News) — Stephanie Belding felt “a sense of loss” when Toronto Public Health recently urged people to limit contact with others to within their own household.

Like so many others, Belding enjoyed a brief reprieve from isolation when the COVID-19 curve flattened during the summer and public health restrictions eased. The 49-year-old actor and trainer lives alone in a downtown apartment, but over the last couple of months there were plenty of opportunities to meet up with friends outside, where the risk of coronavirus transmission is considered lower.

But as COVID-19 cases, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, surged in recent weeks to alarming levels not seen since the spring, public health officials have been trying to reduce as much person-to-person contact as possible, while keeping schools open and avoiding another full lockdown.

“The concept of the bubble, or the social circle, no longer reflects the circumstances in which we live,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, in a news briefing on Sept. 28.

“Fighting COVID-19 demands we limit contact with people we don’t live with.” (…)

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