Coronavirus and home quarantine: Do you qualify, how to get supplies and all the rules you and your family should follow
Here's what you need to know about preparing for home quarantine for yourself or a family member
On Friday, India's confirmed coronavirus cases swelled to nearly 82,000 with 3,995 testing positive just in the past 24 hours. With the country's case count doubling over the past 12 days and some reports estimating that India would reach 100,000 cases by 18 May, it seems that more and more people are likely to be put under home quarantine.
This is a subject I am more than a little familiar with having spent 14 days in home quarantine after returning from Spain in March. Coming from a country that was in the literally going into lockdown before my eyes — a member of the Spanish royal family had just been diagnosed with the coronavirus — I was more than a little nervous while going through immigration at Mumbai airport.
My temperature was taken at the airport (all clear) and having come from a coronavirus-afflicted country, I was advised to go into self-quarantine at home for 14 days. I provided my details to the authorities and immediately did so.
But much has changed since mid-March, when India had seen less than a hundred cases and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government was still more than a week away from declaring the first lockdown. Here's what you need to know about preparing for home quarantine for yourself or a family member:
Do you qualify for home quarantine?
As per the latest guidelines issued by the health ministry on Monday, only those who have been clinically diagnosed as being pre-symptomatic or with a very mild case of COVID-19 by a treating medical officer qualify for home quarantine — and that if they have the required facilities at home. Those categorised as 'severe cases' of coronavirus will be admitted to a dedicated COVID-19 facility.
Instructions for individual in quarantine
An individual in home quarantine should stay in a well-ventilated room, preferably with an attached bathroom, as per the health ministry guidelines. If another family member needs to stay in the room, a distance of one metre should be maintained all at times.
An individual in home quarantine should also restrict their movement within the home, stay away from the elderly, pregnant women, children and those with co-morbidities, as per the health ministry guidelines. Such an individual should wear gloves and a face mask at all times.
He or she should not share household items such as utensils, drinking glasses, towels, bedding. Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and sanitisers for at least 20 seconds. Masks used by caregivers and close contacts should be disinfected and disposed of. If symptoms appear, the nearest health centre should be immediately informed, as per the health ministry.
While access to a separate room with an attached bath is out of reach for many people in India, those in quarantine can still take the aforementioned precautions. While isolating yourself and keeping away from your family is an essential component of the quarantine, it can prove to be a psychological burden, especially after a few days when the pressure starts to build.
Listening to music, reading a book or watching something on TV can ease the burden. Many have taken to having Zoom parties or connecting with friends or family through video-calling.
For families of those in quarantine
One individual should be tasked with caring for the person in home quarantine. There should be no direct contact with the skin and the soiled linen of those in quarantine should not be shaken. The person tasked with caring for the quarantined individual should also wear gloves and a mask and surfaces the individual comes into contact with should be disinfected regularly.
Depending on whether you're located in a green, red or orange zone, you can order supplies from e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Flipkart. Being a red zone in Mumbai, I've had success ordering essential items such as fruits and packaged goods, from Amazon and BigBasket. While you can stock up on items for a week in advance, it is important not to hoard.
Friends in other parts of the Mumbai have used delivery services like Swiggy and Zomato to order essential items. E-commerce sites keep updating the areas they're servicing every few days. Be sure to keep checking for latest updates. For medicine, your local chemist is open and likely to provide home delivery. Your neighbourhood kirana stores are also open for business and may be willing to deliver. Consider patronising them at this difficult time.
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