Although we might feel physically isolated during the novel coronavirus outbreak, we are not socially isolated thanks to technology.
In fact, mental health experts are encouraging people to seek quality social support during this time, and keep in touch with others through video calls, texts or social media.
“It helps to share our thoughts and feelings,” said Dr. Katy Kamkar, a Toronto-based clinical psychologist.
Kamkar suggests that people in self-isolation virtually participate in social events with their loved ones, such as birthday celebrations or even dinner.
Even video chatting with co-workers is important because working from home can get lonely, and we all need social and emotional support.
Here are some video chatting platforms you can use to maintain connection, whether it be with family members or colleagues, while physically distancing during the outbreak.
What it is: FaceTime is a video chat platform available on Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers that run Mac OS X 10.6.6 and later.
Price: FaceTime is usually pre-installed on Apple devices and is free of charge. All you need is an AppleID, Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G connections.
Capacity: You can add up to 32 people at the same time using Group FaceTime.
Good for: The app supports any iOS device with a forward-facing camera and Macintosh computers with a webcam.
What it is: WhatsApp is a messaging service owned by Facebook. It allows users to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations and other media.
Price: WhatsApp is free as long as you have Wi-Fi. However, messages are charged according to your data plan if you are not using Wi-Fi.
Capacity: The app allows up to 16 people to video chat at the same time.
Good for: WhatsApp supports Android devices running OS 4.0.3+ and iOS 9+ Apple products.
What it is: Facebook Messenger is a messaging, calling and video chatting app developed by Facebook.
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Price: It is free to video chat or call using Wi-Fi, but if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, mobile data will be used.
Capacity: Up to 50 people can video chat on Facebook Messenger at once.
Good for: Apple devices with iOS 8 and above support Facebook Messenger, as well as Android devices with version 4 and above.
What it is: Zoom is a conferencing service that provides video and audio chatting, and online meetings.
Price: Zoom offers a basic plan for free with unlimited meetings. There is a 40-minute time limit, though, on conferences with three or more people. You can also upgrade to pro, business or enterprise costing between $20 to $27 each month.
Capacity: Up to 100 people can video chat at the same time using the basic and pro plan on Zoom. While the business plan can host up to 300 people at a time and up to 500 people with the enterprise plan.
Good for: As long as you have Wi-Fi and a webcam, Zoom supports most browsers including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Mac, among others.
What it is: Skype is an app for messaging, video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the internet.
Price: If every person on the call or video chat is using Skype, the call is free with Wi-Fi. Users only need to pay when using premium features like SMS texts, voicemail, or making calls to a landline or cellphone outside of Skype.
Capacity: Up to 50 people can video chat at the same time using Skype.
Good for: Skype supports most browsers such as Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
What it is: Google Hangouts is a video conferencing app developed by Google and operates through a Gmail account.
Price: Google Hangouts is free for video calls depending on the plan you have subscribed to.
Capacity: Video calls can include up to 10 (Gmail, G Suite Basic) or 25 (Business, Education) people.
Good for: The app supports Windows, Android and iOS devices.
What it is: Intermedia AnyMeeting provides web conferencing and webinar services for small business. Users can also share their desktop screen with other remote users.
Price: The app offers a free trial, but then charges users. Webinar plans start at $78 a month, or $65 a month when purchased annually. Meeting plans start at $18 per month, or $15 per month when paid for annually.
Capacity: Intermedia AnyMeeting supports between 30 to 1000 people on the same video conference, depending on the monthly plan.
Good for: If you have an Android or iOS device, you can use Intermedia AnyMeeting. It also operates on all modern browsers including the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari.
What it is: GoToMeeting is an online meeting, desktop sharing and video conferencing platform.
Price: Users can try out the app for free, but after 14 days, you must choose either a professional, business or enterprise annual plan ranging between $16 to $22 per month.
Capacity: With the professional plan, GoToMeeting holds up to 150 users on the same video call, 250 participants for the business plan, and up to 3000 people for the enterprise plan.
Good for: The app supports most browsers including iOS, Android, Windows and Mac, among others.
What it is: Houseparty is a social networking service for group video chatting, games and fun quizzes using mobile and desktop apps.
Price: The app is free and there are no in-app purchases.
Capacity: Up to eight people can video chat together on Houseparty at the same time.
Good for: If you have an iOS, Android, Mac or Google Chrome, you can use Houseparty.
READ MORE: Working from home during coronavirus outbreak? Here’s how to keep your relationships intact
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.