Living in Home Isolation

Role of the Family

Ram Kumar Dhamala, Head of Emergency Department, Itahari Hospital

The article delves into the approach and steps to be taken for patients impacted by COVID-19 and going for home isolation. It also highlights the precautions and measures to be taken by patients and attendants during home isolation.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Nepal has now crossed 50,000. With this rising infection rate graph, institutional isolation and COVID dedicated hospital wards are filling up. Criteria have been applied to stay in home isolation for those who tested positive for SARS-Cov 2, with no Covid symptoms or those infected with mild COVID symptoms and do not need treatment. Isolation is a vital public health measure to prevent and control epidemic diseases. The purpose of quarantine or isolation method is to prevent or control the spread of the disease. If the institutional isolation is not available, it can be settled by adopting the criteria specified in the home isolation.

In Nepal, the symptoms and signs of corona (COVID-19) were less common in the early stages. But, infected people now have symptoms such as difficulty in breathing (SOB), loss of taste and smell, coughing, fever without cause, and sore throat. If you experience such symptoms during this time of COVID-19 pandemic, or if you feel unwell or sick, you should stay away from family members as soon as possible. Then, Real Time Poly Chain Reaction (RT PCR) test for COVID-19 should be done. If the result of the RT PCR test is positive, stay in the institutional based isolation center if possible. If it is not vacant, you can stay at home by adopting the minimum health protocol.

Key health standards and behaviors to follow in home isolation is mentioned as below.

1. The infected living room should be bright and well ventilated. There should be a room with ventilation.

2. Should be arranged separate toilet and bathing place as much as possible. In case of need to use collectively, it should be used by other infected family members only after cleaning and spraying by disinfectants.

3. Donot go out during the home isolation period and do not meet and contact with other relatives. It is better to have necessary communication through phone or social media. In case of necessity, have a short conversation at a distance of at least 2 to 3 meters and complete the conversation within maximum time of 15 minutes.

4. Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of water, fruits, and high-protein diet, as it is important to boost immunity by eating nutritious foods and balanced diet. Special care should be taken while eating and delivering food. For example, you have to use a separate set of food plates for infected people. Also, waste management after being used by the infected should be done in a proper manner.

5. All members of the household should wash their hands with soap and water several times a day for at least 20 seconds. Avoid to touching the face area as much as you can. In order to avoid coronavirus, you need to protect your Mouth, Eyes and Nose (MEN).

6. Compulsory use of mandatory medical mask by family members assigned to care for the infected person. Use eyeglasses or face shields, if available. Make as little contact as possible with the infected.

7. Pay attention to personal hygiene. To keep aside the items and personal belonging used by infected person.

8. The risk groups for COVID-19 at home such as chronic ill, senior citizens, especially persons with high blood pressure and Diabetic Mellitus (DM), children, pregnant women and post-partum women should be kept out of contact with the infected person.

9. Check whether the infected person has a fever, at least twice or thrice a day. Take care of other health problems, if any. Consult a health worker or doctor if you have a fever or other problems associated with COVID-19. If you are taking medicine against any disease, take or use medicine regularly.

10. Get in the habit of going to bed and getting up at the same time on a regular basis. Sleep at least 7-8 hours daily, do daily physical exercises and meditations. Doing yoga, reading books and writing down what is on your mind in a notebook are beneficial while you are in home isolation.  Don't worry any more regarding COVID-19 infection. Only take information from official sources. Avoid to take information from social media as there may be myths and unofficial information.

Role of family members while you are in home isolation:

While a family member is in home isolation, other family members have a significant role to play in the prevention, control and treatment of the COVID 19 pandemic.

1. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease. Everyone in the family needs to understand that it can infect anyone. Therefore, love, harmony and sympathy should be given to the infected.

2. Raising the morale of the infected in home isolation. Avoid or reduce for meetings with unnecessary relatives.

3. To provide necessary items to the infected. But to make it available only by taking appropriate precautions.

4. To get the contact number of COVID-19 focal person, doctor or health worker and COVID dedicated ambulance driver of your municipality. To conduct PCR testing of family members in coordination with the contact tracing and testing team.

5. Regularly update the condition and symptoms of the infected. If there are any symptoms like difficulty in breathing, not knowing taste and smell, coughing, fever, inform the doctor and health worker of the municipality and seek health advice.

In conclusion, it is best to keep the infected in an institutional isolation center as much as possible. But if you have to live in home isolation, it seems necessary to follow the above major health criteria. There are number of people who get cured from infection by the means of home isolation. But, remember, if you don’t not follow health standards, then home isolation can be the main center for the spread of COVID-19 disease. While living in home isolation, infected individuals, families and local municipalities need to adhere to self-discipline and strictly regulate.

Ram Kumar Dhamala

Ram Kumar Dhamala is currently the Head of emergency department of Itahari Hospital in Nepal and member of the COVID-19 Home Isolation Monitoring and Management Committee in Itahari Sub-metropolitan city.

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