We have barely reached the end of the third month of 2020 and the current global scenario, in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak, is cataclysmic, to say the least. The spread of COVID-19 has brought the entire world to its knee, since it was detected in China in December 2019. So far, the deadly virus has spread across every continent except Antartica. To control this and flatten the curve of the pandemic, countries have gone on a nation-wide lockdowns, including in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on March 24, 2020, proactively declared a 21-day lockdown pan-India to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. All but essential services and manufacturing units are to remain closed. Terms such as ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’ and ‘self-quarantine’ is no longer optional but a government diktat. However, just staying at home is not enough, especially if you fear you’ve been in high risk environments.
In order to even begin to approach the basics of home quarantine, we must understand how the virus is spreading, says Dr Sandeep Patil, chief intensivist and physician, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan (Mumbai). “Covid-19 is transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets that come out of an infected persons when he or she coughs or sneezes. These droplets can get into the mouth or nose of a person nearby and be inhaled into the lungs.” The expert adds, “The transmission can also happen if a healthy person touches a surface or object that has the virus and touches his eyes, nose, or mouth.”
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, issued guidelines for home quarantine, here’s what it read:
What are the dos and don’ts of home quarantine?
· Stay in a well-ventilated single-room preferably with an attached/separate toilet. If another family member needs to stay in the same room, it’s advisable to maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between the two.
· Stay away from the elderly, pregnant women, children and persons with pre-existing medical conditions within the household.
· Restrict your movement within the house.
· Under no circumstances attend any social/religious gathering e.g. wedding, condolences, etc.
What public health
measures should a person take during home quarantine?
• Wash hand as often thoroughly with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid sharing household items e.g. dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people at home.
• Wear a surgical mask at all the time. The mask should be changed every 6-8 hours and disposed off. Disposable masks are never to be reused.
• Masks used by patients/care givers/close contacts during home care should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution (5%) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1%) and then disposed of either by burning or deep burial.
• If symptoms appear (cough/fever/difficulty in breathing), immediately inform the nearest health centre.
Who must be home
quarantined and for how long?
“A person who has come in contact with a Coronavirus infected patient or a contaminated environment must be home/self-quarantined for 14 days. This is because he or she has been exposed to the pandemic and is, therefore, more likely to develop it,” explains Dr Patil.
The Ministry document specifies anyone who has been under the following situations and contact needs to be under self-quarantine:
• A person living in the same household as a COVID-19 case;
• A person having had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case or his/her infectious secretions without recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) or with a possible breach of PPE
• A person who was in a closed environment or had face-to-face contact with a COVID-19 case at a distance of within one metre including air travel.
What do the care-givers need to keep in mind?
“The care-giver, mostly an assigned family member, is not a super human and at a high risk of also falling prey to coronavirus. Hence, it’s important they practice good hygiene just as the person being home quarantined,” says Nishant Mhatre, who is on his 10th day of quarantine and has his mother helping him.
· Always wear a face mask and gloves when there are chances that you may come in contact with the person’s bodily fluids or soiled clothes.
· Ensure you throw away the mask and gloves and don’t reuse them. To dispose the mask and gloves, use an ordinary bleach solution (5 per cent) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1 per cent) and to disinfect it and then either burn or bury it.
· Disinfect the clothes first and then wash them separately with regular detergent you use at home.
· Clean and disinfect all the surfaces and items that the patient touches frequently—from bed frames to the toilet seat—with a regular bleach solution or phenolic disinfectants.
· Don’t allow any visitors until the home-quarantine period is over.
If, during these 14 days, the person being quarantined becomes symptomatic, all his family members and other close contacts will also have to observe the 14-day home-quarantine.
Note: Guidance may change, stay informed and stay safe, with .