COVID-19 - How to Stay Safe During The Pandemic

COVID-19 - How to Stay Safe During The Pandemic
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When should you quarantine yourself?

When in doubt – Isolate!! It is best to isolate and home quarantine yourself the moment you know that you have interacted with someone who has tested Coronavirus (COVID 19) positive or if you have developed symptoms and suspect that it could be COVID 19. Most people make the mistake of continuing with their lives until the test result comes out positive, and thereby unknowingly end up infecting people close to them. It is therefore prudent to isolate immediately when in doubt and not wait for the test result to show up.

What to do if one has tested Covid 19 positive?

The virus is on a rampage, and while one may have taken all the precautions to protect oneself there is still a possibility that the virus slipped through and the test is positive. It is not a cause for alarm or panic, remember, the infection will only be mild or moderate in a vast majority of people. Not everyone who is infected with the SARS CoV-2 requires hospitalization nor do they require oxygen or ventilator support. All that needs to be done is to follow the advice of a medical expert whom you have consulted, take the prescribed medications, and quarantine yourself till you recover and are no longer capable of spreading the infection to somebody else.

Who can be home quarantined?

The following are the prescribed guidelines for people who are eligible to be home quarantined:

  • Only mild or moderate symptoms are present and the medical expert feels there is no need for hospitalization and the infection can be managed at home
  • There is a provision at your home for the isolation and management of an infected person
  • There is a caregiver who can attend to and take care of the infected individual 24x7 as there will be a restriction of movement and some activities until the quarantine period is over

What are the best practices for home quarantine?

If you have been told that you need to quarantine yourself as you have tested positive, these are the basic and important rules to follow to ensure that you don’t spread the infection as well as have an early recovery.

The quarantine room:

The place where you will be isolating yourself has to be well ventilated preferably with an attached toilet. It is also preferable that you are alone in the room and do not share it with anyone else for the entire period of quarantine. If in case that is not possible, then other precautions as listed below will need to be taken. The reason an attached or a designated toilet is preferred is because the virus has also been detected in stool in large quantities, and there is a high risk of contact with other infected body fluids in a room such as a toilet.

Use of mask and gloves in quarantine:

When the quarantined person is alone in the room, it is not necessary to continuously wear the mask, but is required to do so when interacting with others. A medical-grade mask should be worn by the infected person when interacting with a caregiver or other family members (if the interaction is unavoidable). It is essential to change the mask regularly at 8 hourly intervals and properly dispose of a used mask. Caregivers should also wear a medical-grade mask and use gloves when attending to the infected individual.

Limit the duration of interaction:

The duration of unavoidable interaction is best limited to less than 15 minutes.

Interaction with other family members:

It is best to avoid all direct contact and interaction with other family members. More importantly avoid any contact with elderly people and those with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc.

Household and daily use items:

For the duration of the quarantine items such as plates, drinking glasses, cups, etc., and personal use items such as toothbrush, razors, clothes, pillow covers, bed-sheets, etc. should be allocated specifically and handled separately from other similar items used by family members.

Cleaning of items used:

When handling and cleaning items used by an infected person, it is advisable to wear gloves and a mask, and wash or clean them with hot water and soap, and dry them separately.

Dealing with a common toilet:

When a separate toilet is not available and a common toilet is being used, it is important to sanitize the sink, taps, doorknobs, WC flush, handles, and other commonly touched surfaces with 1% hypochlorite solution after the quarantined person uses it and before the next person uses the toilet.

Sharing a room:

If no separate room is available for quarantine and it has to be shared, then masks need to be worn all the time and a minimum distance of 1 meter or 6 feet has to be maintained.  Although this is not an acceptable guideline nor is it effective in limiting the spread of infection, it is probably the best that can be done in such a situation, provided other safety measures listed above are strictly followed. It is also advisable to maintain proper ventilation and good airflow in such a shared room.


While in the pandemic, it is natural for our friends and well-wishers to be concerned, but there must be absolutely no visitors allowed, even for a brief interaction.

Hand hygiene and Safety precautions for other family members:

It is important to avoid interaction with the person in quarantine. It is also important to regularly wash hands with soap, and also maintain adequate social distance within the house even if others have tested negative. Surfaces that are often touched and used need to be sanitized at least once a day. Wearing a mask when interacting with the person in quarantine is a must. Caregivers should also constantly monitor themselves, and look out for any signs of cough, fever, body pains and immediately isolate and get tested if in doubt.

Stepping out:

A person in quarantine should not step out until the entire quarantine period is over, even if they have very mild or no symptoms. If unavoidable, then all precautions such as the proper wearing of a medical-grade mask, face shield, and gloves would need to be strictly adhered to.

Diet and Fluids:

The individual in quarantine needs to keep well hydrated and consume fluids. Diet should include a lot of vegetables and fruits and should be low in salt and moderate in fat and oil. Excessive consumption of aerated drinks, alcohol, and smoking should be avoided. Meals should be taken at regular intervals and skipping meals should be avoided.

Physical Activity:

If mildly symptomatic, apart from getting adequate rest it is also important to be physically active and continue with regular activities within the confines of the room. It is not advisable to engage in strenuous activities or rigorous physical exercise until the quarantine period is over.

Mental Health:

Maintaining a positive attitude and avoiding unnecessary stress and panic is essential to recover quickly from Coronavirus. Anxiety and stress harm our immune system and our oxygen levels. It is best to avoid reading or viewing distressing information about the pandemic while keeping informed on the positive developments and new safety advice and recovery information. While physical and direct interactions are to be completely avoided, it is important to have social interactions via telephone or the internet to be mentally strong.


The medical experts have likely prescribed medications and drugs that will help with the management of symptoms and early recovery. It is important to follow the prescription and avoid missing any medications. If a medication is missed it is best to consult the medical expert on what can be done.

Monitoring your progress:

When in isolation it is important to make a note of your body temperature for signs of fever, oxygen saturation to assess lung function, cough, and bowel movements.

Equipment to keep at hand:

A thermometer to measure temperature and a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen saturation is the basic equipment that can help to monitor symptoms.

When is the time to seek emergency medical attention?

In some individuals, the infection may sometimes get worse before it gets better and may require medical intervention in a hospital to help with recovery. Some important signs to look out for to seek emergency medical attention include:

  • Increasing breathlessness: a sudden increase in breathlessness or an increased difficulty in breathing when performing regular activities warrants medical attention especially when accompanied by a fall in oxygen saturation.
  • Increase or worsening of cough or persistent chest pain
  • A fall in the oxygen saturation (SpO2below 94) as measured with a pulse oximeter
  • Confusion or inability to stay awake
  • Bluish or greyish discoloration of skin, fingernails, or tongue
  • Excessive loose motions or diarrhea
  • Development of new symptoms that were not previously present when home quarantine was advised
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