The pandemic has mild, moderate, and severe forms. The best way is to get it diagnosed early when you have a dry cough, sore throat, mild fever, or loss of smell or taste. Get RT-PCR swab and HRCT chest and blood tests done. X-ray of the chest may be normal with positive scan findings of COVID-19.
Home quarantine in mild cases is recommended by most governments and doctors. However, it is very important to check clearly with your doctor before taking the final decision of home isolation in case of a positive COVID-19 result.
Things to keep in mind of home care in mild-19 COVID-19 patients:
1) Keep the patient in a single room (preferably with an attached bathroom) which is well ventilated with doors and windows open.
2) The caregiver and patient both should wear masks. N-95 is ideal or a reusable cotton mask that should be washed and disinfected daily.
3) All the hard surfaces and frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned with 1% hypochlorite solution.
4) The patient's vessels and clothes should be washed separately from the clothes and utensils of the caregiver and the rest of the family members. They can either be machine or hand-washed with normal detergent and warm water.
5) Patients should be well hydrated and intake plenty of liquids as they may experience dry mouth and dehydration. Lukewarm liquids and water with ORS or lemon and sugar water should be given.
6) For mild fever, antipyretics should be taken like paracetamol. And antibiotics as per doctors' consultation.
7) Check daily temperature, oxygen saturation, and pulse. The patient can also walk for 6 minutes and note if the oxygen level falls after 6 minutes. If the oxygen levels are below 95%, it is best to consult the doctor immediately.
8) Lozenges can be taken to soothe an irritated throat.
9) If the patient has a persistent fever or there is a drop in oxygen level below 95% or breathing difficulty arises, then the patient should be immediately shifted to the hospital, after consulting with the doctor once.
10) After 4 to 5 days of treatment at home, if the patient does not show any symptoms, it's important to perform simple breathing exercises. Doing light physical activity in their own room will keep the muscles active and avoid muscle weakness. Excessive bed rest is not recommended as it can cause blood clotting and lead to sudden breathing difficulty due to pulmonary or cardiac embolism which means clot travels to lungs or heart due to stagnation of blood during bed rest.
11) In asthma patients, it's advisable to use the inhaler with a spacer and not nebulizer as that will disperse larger droplets to aerosol, and viruses can remain in the air for longer periods.
12) Ensure proper nutrition, if the patient has oral ulcers can take semi-solid food or liquids till ulcers heal with prescribed medications.
14) The virus is self-limiting in the early stages where we can control it with all these measures. Remember: touched surfaces like doorknobs, handles, doors, tables, should be cleaned with 1% hypochlorite solution.
Apart from the above, it is important for all patients in home care to be in touch with their doctor regularly through telemedicine or teleconsultation services. The key to recovering from a mild COVID-19 infection lies in taking rest, drinking a lot of warm water and liquids, inhaling steam, staying physically active (to an extent only) and staying mentally positive.