TORONTO -- While North York couple Sophia Le and Roger Xu are used to working online for their export business, spending 24 hours a day at home for two weeks in self-quarantine required a little more planning.

The husband and wife had already been in self-quarantine in Shanghai, China for 14 days at the beginning of February amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, before returning to Canada. While the advisory from Canadian officials only required travellers from Wuhan to go into quarantine,they decided to go into voluntary self-quarantine for another 14 days as a precaution.

“It’s safety for your friends, your loved ones and for the community,” Xu said.

Le said the key to remaining in self-isolation is to make plans every day.

“Maybe one day, exercise the body using yoga mats....One day I learned to make Hong Kong milk tea from a video,” Le said.

“I thought it was quite easy to pass the 14 days.”

North york couple

But for others, self- isolation may pose more problems, says University of British Columbia researcher Yue Qian.

Qian is one of 47 researchers who received a grant last week from the federal government to study the effects of COVID-19 in Canada.

Her work will focus on the mental stress of quarantine for people particularly in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak and her place of birth.

“We need to think how people can get through their daily lives” she says.

“For example if there are widespread quarantines, how can people get their daily groceries. And for people with chronic health conditions, how can we help them get medicine on a regular basis.”

She says social media and technology can go a long way to alleviate the social isolation imposed during quarantine.

“If we can identify whose mental health suffers most, we can spend more on public health measures to help them afterwards,” Qian said.