The rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world is encouraging individuals to spend more time at home ever than before. With everyone talking about social distancing and home quarantine, it is important to understand:
Who should practice home quarantine?
What measures are to be taken?
Firstly, let us understand the difference between the terms social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.
Social Distancing: Social distancing is consciously increasing physical distance from other people during an interaction to reduce the spread of contagious diseases. Cancellation of large public gatherings and meetings and closure of malls, schools and other public places are examples of social distancing.
Quarantine: When a person who is asymptomatic or unwell or exhibiting symptoms of Coronavirus decides to separate themself from exposure to other infected people, it is known as quarantine. Such individuals restrict their movements outside their closed quarters, typically for a few days. Quarantine is highly suggested for individuals who are susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and need to limit their exposure to other infected individuals.
Isolation: For individuals who are diagnosed to have COVID-19, isolation is required. It simply means keeping people who are infected with a contagious illness away from those who are healthy. Isolation can be carried out at home, in a hospital, or at a healthcare facility, specially equipped to take care of infected patients.
Who should practice home quarantine and for how long?
Home quarantine is a measure that is applicable to all ‘contacts’ of a suspected or confirmed case of the coronavirus. The CDC has advised people above the age of 60 and those who are immunocompromised(having an impaired immune system) to preferably stay at home.
Note: A ‘contact’ is:
Any person living in the same household as the person affected by COVID-19
Any person having direct physical contact with a COVID-19 victim without wearing the necessary protective gear
Any person who was in a closed environment with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
Any person who has had direct contact with a COVID-19 patient at a distance of within 1 meter, including air travel
The home quarantine period is for 14 days from contact with a confirmed case or earlier if a suspect case (of whom the index person is a contact) turns out negative on laboratory testing. (Source: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/DraftGuidelinesforhomequarantine.pdf)
Must-follow measures for home quarantine
Stay in a well-ventilated single-room, preferably with an attached bathroom
If the room is being shared, maintain a distance of 1 meter at all times with the person
For those who are asymptomatic or unwell, make sure your 'work from home' set-up is arranged in a well-lit and a comfortable place in the room which you are quarantined in
Stay away from older people, pregnant women, and children at home
The person under quarantine should restrict movement to other rooms/ common areas of the house
The person under quarantine must use a mask while at home and also while stepping out if need be
Things to stock-up on for 2-weeks home quarantine:
Food - dried grains, rice, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, oil, dried fruits, and nuts
Medicines and first aid kit
Other essentials like paper towels, cleaning products
Bath and hygiene products - hand soap, body wash & toilet paper, diapers/ sanitary products
Instructions for caregivers
Always wear a surgical mask and gloves while being in physical contact with the quarantined individual
Throw away used masks and gloves immediately and make sure not to use them again
Wash clothes, towels, utensils, etc. of the quarantined person separately with disinfectant
Do not allow any visitors to come in contact with the quarantined person
Do not allow any visitors until the time the patient is under home quarantine
Clean the bedroom, bathroom, sheets, and, blankets regularly to avoid the spread of the virus
General public health measures to be followed
Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
Use a 70% alcohol-based sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water
Cover your face and mouth with a tissue or a bent elbow to prevent the spreading of the virus through respiratory droplets
Remember, home quarantine is a measure to control the rapid spread of Coronavirus infection. If during your home quarantine, you develop symptoms or feel unwell, please call your healthcare provider and consult a doctor, if need be.