As the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, continues to spread around the globe, seniors advocates are urging the public to take steps to protect those most vulnerable to the virus.

Retirement and aging specialist Matt Del Vecchio told Global News Morning that minimizing seniors’ exposure to the virus should be everyone’s priority, saying that seniors homes face significant challenges in responding to a potential outbreak.

While over 80 per cent of worldwide cases of the virus result in only mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization, the elderly are at a significantly elevated risk of developing complications. It is estimated that around 15 per cent of those over the age of 80 die after getting sick from the virus.

Discouraging visits to seniors homes is perhaps the most effective step such facilities can take to protect residents, Del Vecchio said.

Del Vecchio explained that there are “alternatives” to visiting loved ones living in a seniors home.

“You might want to explain to your grandparents or your parents that maybe it would be better if we Skyped,” he said.

Del Vecchio echoed remarks from public health officials in recent days that some Quebecers’ basic habits may need to change to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

“The two-cheek kiss, that might have to go for a while,” he said, something provincial Health Minister Danielle McCann also suggested this week.

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