Home care for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients: How to self-quarantine safely when one lives with others
The population density and cultural norms in India are such that most people not only share their life and space with their families (joint or nuclear) but also with their neighbours and communities.
Months after the novel coronavirus infection first spread across the world, the situation of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients still poses a conundrum. Diagnosing the infection becomes very difficult in their case, and doubts over whether asymptomatic patients have a greater potential to become superspreaders have persisted due to the lack of extensive research.
The asymptomatic patient’s conundrum
Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently had to retract its statement that asymptomatic patients spreading the virus was “very rare” the very next day, and admit that actual rates of asymptomatic transmission aren’t known yet. This poses a very difficult challenge for healthcare workers, asymptomatic patients and those in close contact with said patients -- especially in India, where asymptomatic patients are not hospitalised anymore but quarantined.
The population density and cultural norms in India are such that most people not only share their life and space with their families (joint or nuclear) but also with their neighbours and communities. This makes the proper quarantine of a COVID-19 positive patient difficult because contact with others is inevitable. At the same time, expensive quarantine packages at hotels or clinics are not affordable for most.
Guidelines for asymptomatic patients
So, the only viable option for asymptomatic patients in such cases is to comply completely with the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) until you’ve recovered and received a COVID-19 negative test result. These rules can not only aid your speedy recovery but also ensure that your loved ones remain safe. The following are the norms all asymptomatic COVID-19 patients must adhere to.
1. Stay alone: An asymptomatic patient must isolate himself or herself from the rest of the family as soon as they find out (or suspect) their diagnosis. You don’t need a room with a view, but cross-ventilation is a must. It’s preferable that you stay in this room alone, but if you can’t then maintain a good distance from your roommate at all times.
2. Mask needs: Ensure that you (and everyone in your home) have at least two or three well-fitted masks made with 100 percent cotton fabric, if not N95s, and wear them properly at all times. Yes, you’re at home, but you have a highly contagious disease. You must be careful about droplet and surface transmission at all times and wear a mask — and gloves too — especially when someone enters your room or if you must step outside the room.
3. Bathroom care: A study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases in May 2020 indicated that transmission of COVID-19 is possible through faecal matter or stool. This is the reason why using a separate bathroom and disinfecting it regularly with strong household bleach is very important. If you share your bathroom with a loved one, ensure that you close the lid of the pot every time you flush and disinfect the area immediately after use.
4. Restrict movement: Quarantine means isolation and separation, which means you must not roam around your home or use the same facilities that you usually do. Separate your utensils, wash them and your laundry separately and ensure that your food is also cooked separately.
5. Stay clean: You must maintain proper hand hygiene at all times and wash your hands regularly with soap and water. All the high-touch surfaces in your quarantine space must also be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
6. Communicate with your primary: Having a primary caregiver responsible for your needs is not just important but also state-mandated. This person has to communicate with you, the state health department and the rest of the family and is your bridge to the world during the quarantine. Maintain the safety of your primary caregiver, be completely honest about your health status and report any changes immediately.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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