‘If the family members are in close contact with the infected person, they should get tested after five days.’Health experts say most people will only experience mild symptoms as people isolate themselves at home.
The number of confirmed active Covid-19 cases in Nepal stands at 90,067 as the super contagious Omicron variant spreads like wildfire. After testing positive, health experts say most people will only experience mild symptoms as people isolate themselves at home. The Post’s Drishna Sthapit talked to Dr Bhawana Amatya, MD (General Practice) at CIWEC Hospital, for essential advice on isolating safely at home.
The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity and brevity.
How can one isolate at home safely?
Home isolation refers to isolating a Covid-19 infected person in a separate room along with a separate bathroom, if possible.
One should isolate for 10 days as recommended by the Health Ministry.
There are six Ms of safe isolation.
The first M is for Mixing.
A Covid-19 infected person should not mix with other people. There may be people in the friends and family circle who are not immune-competent like the elderly or people with diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Even if one can get over Covid-19 soon, not everyone who s/he infects will be able to get over it.
If possible, there should be a separate bathroom. If there is only one bathroom available, the infected one should use the bathroom at the end and should disinfect the whole area.
The isolation room should be properly ventilated. The windows must be kept open. If there is an exhaust fan in the bathroom, it should be turned on.
The waste products from the infected person should be kept in a lined dustbin and covered.
The second M is for Monitoring.
One should keep monitoring tools like a thermometer and pulse oximeter in the isolation room at all times.
One should measure the body temperature and oxygen saturation levels every six hours.
One should make sure to get a good quality pulse oximeter.
The third M is for Medicines.
One should keep paracetamol and decongestant medicines for fever and nasal stuffiness. It is better to record your medicine intake on a chart to make it easier for your healthcare provider later on.
One should avoid antibiotics as much as possible since antibiotic resistance is a dangerous situation that one may end up in if one gets admitted to the hospital.
Oral rehydration salts like electrolytes can also be kept at home.
If any further deterioration occurs, it is better to consult a healthcare provider or do a teleconsultation or go to the hospital.
The fourth M is for Meals.
A healthy diet rich in protein and fluid intake is very important. If you don’t have kidney or heart disease, you should take at least 2 to 2.5 litres of fluids a day. Avoid junk food as much as possible.
The fifth M is for a healthy Mindset.
There can be anxiety and stress during the 10-day isolation period. One can opt for mindfulness activities like yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. One should also take up their favourite hobbies like painting, listening to music or watching movies. Talking to friends and family over the phone or video calls can also be helpful.
The sixth M is for Movement.
Covid-19 also poses a risk for thromboembolism, when blood clots may form in the body if you stay at the same place for a long time.
One should also know when to move to the hospital and look for danger signs like low oxygen saturation (lower than 94%), difficulty breathing, confusion, continuous diarrhoea or fever. One should immediately seek healthcare support if a Covid-19 patient has seizures, cannot speak properly, eat or drink properly, or turns blue.
What should family members keep in mind?
The family members should wear a mask, if possible an N95 mask, at all times. A caregiver should be assigned to the infected person who should be preparing all the meals for them. Keep a stool outside the infected person’s room and hand in their meals on that stool. The infected person should wait for the caregiver to move away before s/he takes in the prepared meal.
If there is an attached bathroom available, the infected one should wash the dishes.
If it is not possible, both the infected and other family members should wear masks and maintain a distance of 1 metre. The caregiver should monitor their symptoms and get tested as soon as possible. If there are no symptoms, and if the family members are in close contact with the infected person, they should get tested after five days of the ongoing exposure.