How Long Should A Covid-19 Patient Be Isolated?
With the deadly first and second wave of Covid-19, the country’s medical resources have stretched thin. Healthcare providers are doing their best to save lives and reach out to the sufferers. There is a shortage of beds, oxygen cylinders and isolation centres in the hospitals. Thankfully, every patient who tests positive for coronavirus doesn’t need hospitalization. Many tend to recover by being isolated at home without the support of advanced medical assistance. The central government keeps issuing guidelines, new and updated information regarding the home isolation instructions.
What is Home Isolation?
Home isolation means when the Covid-19 positive persons isolate themselves at home following all the protocols and precautions advised by the medical practitioners.
Who is Eligible for Home Isolation?
Patients who have been clinically proven to exhibit mild symptoms or have tested positive but are asymptomatic can opt for home isolation, provided they have the facility to be isolated. They should have a caregiver available at all times. Patients who are above 60 years of age and have underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, kidney or liver complications should get evaluated by their physician before isolating themselves.
How Should the Patient Isolate?
- The isolation of the Covid-19 patient should be in a separate room that is away from the rooms of other members of the family. They should stay in the identified room away from the rest of the household members.
- A clean, hygienic and well-ventilated room is the prerequisite of home isolation. Windows should be kept open for the fresh air to come in.
- A caregiver should be available round the clock. The care provider should have a communication link with the hospital and the physician throughout the isolation period.
- The patient should make use of a triple-layered medical mask at all times. It is also very important to dispose of it every 8 hours or before it is soiled.
- The caregiver should always wear a mask.
- Used masks should be disinfected with 1% sodium hydrochloride solution, before being discarded. The patient should drink a lot of fluid to avoid dehydration.
- Taking proper rest is also important.
- The patient should follow the respiratory etiquettes at all times.
- It is imperative to wash hands frequently with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand rub.
- The patient should not share personal items with other members of the household.
- Disinfect the frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, tabletops etc with 1% hypochlorite solution.
- Self-monitoring of blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate with the help of an oximeter is highly recommended.
Things to remember when caring for someone sick at home
If you are taking care of a Covid-19 patient at home, it is crucial that you also follow the guidelines to protect yourself and other members of the family. Being in close proximity with the covid infected person increases your chances of exposure to the virus. Therefore it is advisable that you take care of yourself as well.
- Mask Etiquettes
The caregiver should wear a triple layer medical mask, when in the same room with the covid patient. The mask should be changed immediately if it gets dirty or wet with secretion. Discard the mask after use and follow hand hygiene immediately after it.
- Gloves Etiquettes
Wear gloves when you touch the body fluids like urine, mucus, saliva etc of the person infected. Throw off the gloves and wash your hands. Wear gloves even while handling the dishes used by the covid patient.
- No Sharing Policy
Do not share items like dishes, towels, bedding or cell phone with the person who is sick.
- Everyday Preventive Actions
Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth. Keep washing your hands regularly. Clean and disinfect the common surfaces.
When Should the Home Quarantine End?
According to health experts, the overall recovery from coronavirus takes up to 14 -17 days after the onset of the symptoms. The incubation period of this virus is 5 – 12 days. As per the Health Ministry of India, “Patients under home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days have passed from the onset of symptoms (or date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and no fever for 3 days. There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over.”
Taking the advice of your treating physician before ending the home quarantine is a must because the type and the intensity of symptoms vary from person to person. Fever is generally considered a classic indicator of infection. If a patient doesn’t get a fever for three days or doesn’t have to use any medicine to bring down the fever and exhibits gradual improvement in the paradigm of the symptoms, it is considered safe to do away with the home isolation.
Getting two negative RT-PCR reports at the gap of 24 hours is also an indicator that the person has recovered from the infection and can end the home isolation. Keeping in mind the spike in the number of positive cases and high demands of tests faced by testing laboratories, a person is not required to be retested, if the stipulated isolation period has ended.
The home isolation period is fixed at 14 days because it is believed that the virus runs its course and dies within this period. In case a patient has frail immunity, the doctor may suggest a longer isolation period than usual and further testing. According to Director, AIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria,
“It is scientifically proven that the virus in mild cases dies after six to seven days.” He adds further that the test can still be positive if it picks the viral debris. But these dead loads of debris don’t cause the spread of infection.”
A team of software developers in India has created an app with the support of Johns Hopkins University in the US. The company claims to have sourced content and expertise of medical practitioners of Johns Hopkins University and Medicine in the US. All the guidance to the patients who are covid positive and are in isolation at home is provided right on their smartphones, with the help of this app. The Vee+ Svasa App has been developed by Vee Technologies and it delivers information about the covid vaccine, local medical care, educational videos and other content to the patients.
Frequently Asked Questions by Patients Under Home Isolation!
As India is still reeling under the second deadly wave of Corona infection, there are numerous questions the covid-19 patients seek answers to. Let’s clear some doubts about the patients fighting this virus in-home quarantine, as per Dr Rupali Basu, MD & CEO, Woodlands Hospital, Kolkata as told to India Today.
- Do I need to wear a mask even when I’m alone in the room?
Answer: No, you surely don’t need to wear a mask when you are all alone in your isolated room.
- Can I sit in the AC room during summers?
Answer: The AC without a fresh air inlet is not helpful. Fresh air from green areas around you will help you more.
- Do the members of my family need to wear masks and gloves whenever they collect something from me?
Answer: Yes, and they need to dispose of the mask and gloves after every use and also follow the basic hygiene guidelines.
- Can my clothes and utensils be washed with others?
Answer: No, items used by you must be washed separately. It is advisable to use disposable utensils for food till the time you are under isolation.
- Do I need to have a negative test report before I resume office?
Answer: After 10 days from the onset of symptoms and 3 fever-free days, there is no requirement to be tested prior to returning to your work. Although, you can check for the same from your office. It is highly recommended that you maintain good hygiene and follow all the protocols and instructions issued by local health authorities.
The pandemic continues to rattle the world with its fast pace of transmission and various mutants. It is not only difficult to predict its trajectory but is also difficult to contain its spread altogether. A well-coordinated global effort is required to put an end to this virus. Without the support of the masses, the government will not be able to contain this virus. Thus, it becomes mandatory for us to act responsibly and do our bit for society.
Staying in isolation in your own house is not a pleasant scenario. To avoid this unpleasantness one has to be particular about adopting socially approved and medically correct corona etiquettes. Indulge in activities that keep you optimistic and happy. Being safe yourself will ensure the safety of your loved ones as well. ‘Stay safe, to keep others safe ‘ is the mantra we all must follow.