Have you, or anyone in your home, tested positive for Covid-19?
Are you or any member of your family now in isolation because of a positive test result?
Here’s all the information you need on homecare.
What does a positive laboratory test result mean?
Your healthcare provider took a specimen from you because you had symptoms and met the current criteria for testing. This specimen was sent to a laboratory. The laboratory tested your specimen for genetic material from the new coronavirus. This virus has been named SARS-CoV-2. The test was reported as either positive or negative. If your test was reported to be positive, then genetic material from the coronavirus was found in your specimen and you have confirmed coronavirus disease.
Who will be in touch with me from the government or National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)?
Your healthcare provider (your GP or local clinic) is primarily responsible for your care. However, you may be called, visited at home or advised by government officials, community health workers or by the NICD. Once you have confirmed coronavirus disease, the purpose of this contact is to assess if your home environment is suitable for isolation, to assist you and members of your household adhere to the home isolation recommendations and to monitor your illness.
What information will I need to provide to officials?
Your health care provider, government officials or NICD will also ask you to make a list of all the people you have had close contact with from 2 days before you became ill. These people will also be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms.
If I have a positive laboratory test result, am I at risk for more severe illness?
The laboratory test will not be able to tell you if you are at risk for more severe illness because the result is only reported as positive or negative for the coronavirus. However, you would have been assessed by your healthcare provider in terms of your current coronavirus illness and your other risk factors for more severe illness (i.e. older age, serious underlying medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, lung disease and immunosuppression, etc.). If you were asked to isolate at home, your healthcare provider has assessed that you have a mild illness that can be managed at home.
However, some people with coronavirus disease may worsen at home and need admission to hospital. It is very important that you carefully monitor your symptoms throughout your illness and look out for emergency warning signs.
What does my home isolation mean for me?
Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or any public areas.
Do not use any public transport (including buses, minibus taxis and taxi cabs).
Do not travel. You should cancel all your routine medical and dental appointments.
If possible, you should not even go out to buy food, medicines or other essentials. You should ask friends or relatives to help you to buy groceries and essentials.
If you have access to the internet, you can order your shopping or medications online but tell delivery drivers to leave any items for collection outside your house. Delivery drivers should not come into your house at all.
You should not go outside to exercise, unless you can maintain a safe distance from others in an outdoors space.
You should not have any visitors in your home during your isolation period.
Do keep in touch with your relatives, friends and colleagues over the phone, internet or by using social media.
How do I care for myself at home?
Have your healthcare provider’s contact information on hand for emergencies
Most people who get sick with coronavirus disease will have only a mild illness and should recover at home. You may continue to experience the typical symptoms which include a fever, cough and mild shortness of breath. Most people with mild illness will start feeling better within a week of first symptoms. Have your healthcare provider’s contact information on hand for emergencies – this could be your GP or your nearest local clinic/ hospital.
Rest & drink enough water
Get rest at home and drink enough water/ clear fluids during the day to make sure that your urine stays a pale clear colour. There are no specific antiviral treatments recommended for coronavirus disease. You can take over-the-counter medications if you have fever or pain. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose. You should continue taking any other prescribed chronic medication.
Monitor your symptoms
Monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately. If you develop any emergency warning signs, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include: trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure in your chest that does not go away, coughing up blood, becoming confused, severe sleepiness, blue lips or face. If you have any warning signs, you or a member of your household should call your nearest hospital or emergency services immediately and notify them that you have confirmed coronavirus disease. Avoid taking public transport to the facility – either use private transport (preferably with windows rolled-down) or call emergency services for an ambulance if required. You should wear a face mask if you travel to seek hospital care.
Why have I been asked to isolate at home?
Staying at home will help to control the spread of the new coronavirus to your friends, relatives and your wider community. In particular, staying at home will help prevent spread to the most vulnerable people in our communities, who are risk for severe illness.
How is the virus spread?
The coronavirus is spread by droplets. When an infected person coughs, exhales or sneezes, they release droplets of fluid containing virus particles into the air. Other people can become infected by breathing in these droplets if they are standing within a few meters from the infected person. The larger droplets can also fall on nearby surfaces and objects. The virus can survive on hard surfaces (plastic and stainless steel, for example) for up to 72 hours. Other people can become infected when they touch contaminated surface, then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. People cannot be infected through the skin.
Will other members of my household be tested for coronavirus disease?
Other members of your household (who are considered among your close contacts) will only have specimens collected for laboratory testing if they develop symptoms consistent with coronavirus disease.
What do I do if I live with children?
If you live with children, you should follow the advice shown here to the best of your ability.
What does my home isolation mean for other people who live in my household?
If you live with other people, as far as possible, you should stay in a separate “sick room” and away from other people in your household.
If a separate sick room is not possible, try to keep to one area of your home, at least 2 meters (3 steps) away from other people and wear a disposable face mask to prevent spread of the virus to other people. Cloth masks should not be used.
Limit contact with any pets and animals.
Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with disposable face tissue.
Dispose tissues into the waste bin in your sick room/ area and then immediately wash your hands.
Wash your hands regularly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (containing at least 60% alcohol).
Keeping your room/sick area clean and safe
Clean your sick room/area every day, first using regular household soap and then after rinsing, using regular household disinfectant containing 0.5% sodium hypochlorite (make this using 1 part 5% bleach to 9 parts water).
If someone else cleans your sick room/area, they should use personal protective equipment including single-use or utility gloves and a plastic apron while cleaning.
If you have a home carer, your carer should adhere to home-based infection control recommendations, including use of personal protective equipment.
Do not share eating utensils, towels, bedding with others in your household.
If possible, use a separate bathroom. Clean and disinfect bathrooms at least once a day, first using regular household soap and then after rinsing, using regular household disinfectant containing 0.5% sodium hypochlorite (bleach).
If someone else cleans the bathroom that you have used, they should use personal protective equipment including single-use or utility gloves and a plastic apron while cleaning. Utility gloves should be cleaned with soap and water, then decontaminated with 0.5% sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Single-use gloves and plastic aprons should be discarded. If you have to share a bathroom, clean the bathroom after every use.
How to do your laundry?
Your laundry (clothes, bed linen, towels) should be placed in a laundry bag. Do not shake soiled laundry to avoid spreading the virus through the air. Machine-wash laundry at 60-90oC with regular detergent. If machine washing is not possible, wash laundry using regular laundry soap and hot water in a large container using a stick to stir. Hang washing outside to dry in the sunlight.
Keep shared spaces ventilated
Shared spaces should be well ventilated. If a fan is available, point it out of one window and keep another window open to facilitate increased air exchange in the room.
Keeping the kitchen safe
If you share a kitchen, avoid using the kitchen at the same time as other people.
If possible, have your meals in your separate room and use separate utensils.
If you have a dishwasher, use this to clean and dry your cutlery and crockery. If you do not have a dishwasher, wash crockery and cutlery using your usual washing-up soap and warm water and dry thoroughly.
How long will I need to isolate at home?
You can end your home isolation 14 days after your illness began. Your illness began on the day that you first developed symptoms, not on the day that a specimen was collected or on the day that the laboratory test was reported to be positive. If you were tested with no symptoms and had a positive test result, you can end your home isolation 14 days after the positive specimen was collected.
Will I be tested again after the 14-day isolation period?
After a 14-day home isolation period, you are considered to no longer be infectious, i.e. you are very unlikely to transmit infection to others. No follow-up laboratory tests will be done during or at the end of your home isolation period. Laboratory tests that only look for coronavirus genetic material in specimens cannot tell us whether you can still transmit infection to others because a positive test may only pick up pieces of dead virus.
What does being a close contact mean?
You have been in close contact with someone who has confirmed coronavirus disease but you do not have any symptoms yourself. Close contact means that you had face-to-face contact within 1 metre or were in a closed space for more than 15 minutes with a person with COVID-19. This contact happened while the person with COVID-19 was still “infectious”, i.e. from 2 days before to 14 days after their symptoms began.
Examples of close contacts
-Lives in the same household as a person with COVID-19
-Works closely in the same environment as a person with COVID-19
-Sat in the same classroom as a person with COVID-19
-Attended the same gathering as a person with COVID-19
-Provided direct care for a person with COVID-19 in a healthcare setting without using the proper personal protective equipment
-Sat within two seats (1 metre) in any direction of a person with COVID-19 case in any kind of vehicle including buses, minibus taxis, etc.
-Served as a crew member in the section of an aircraft where a person with COVID-19 was seated
Who will be in touch with me from the government or National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)?
The person with COVID-19, with whom you were in close contact, made a list of all the people he/ she had close contact with from 2 days before they became ill. You may therefore be called, visited at home or advised by government officials, community health workers and/or the NICD. The purpose of this contact is to assist you to self-quarantine at home for 14 days after your last contact and to monitor you for symptoms.
Will I be tested for coronavirus disease as a close contact?
You will only have a laboratory test performed if you develop symptoms within 14 days of your last close contact with a person with COVID-19 who is considered infectious, i.e. able to transmit infection. A person with COVID-19 is considered infectious from 2 days before to 14 days after they became ill.
Will my own close contacts be tested for coronavirus disease?
No, your close contacts will only have laboratory testing if you are first confirmed to have COVID-19 and they develop symptoms.
Step-by-step guide to your homecare.
-Remain in quarantine for 14 days. Even if the patient feels better during this time, they should continue to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days.
-The patient should be isolated in a well-ventilated single room. If a fan is available, point it out of one window and keep another window open to facilitate increased air exchange in the room.
-If possible, the patient should use a separate bathroom or bathroom/washing facilities should be cleaned after every use.
-Maintain a distance of more than 3 steps from all household members.
-Assign one person to be the caregiver. The caregiver should ideally maintain a distance of more than 1 meter.
-Minimize use of shared spaces and use separate eating utensils where possible.
-No visitors should come to the home during the 14 days.
-Social support, including food support, is critical.
–Wash hands after any type of contact with the patient, before and after preparing food, and before eating.
– Cover mouth with tissue, cloth or paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of appropriately.
-Clean eating utensils with soap and water after every use.
Clean linen (sheets, pillowcases, towels, clothes etc.) with detergent and surfaces with soap.
-Use dedicated linen (sheets, pillowcases, towels, clothes etc.) and eating utensils for the patient.
-Cleaning solution can be made by diluting 1-part pure bleach (5%) to 9-parts water to make a 0.5% solution
-Monitor daily for worsening symptoms.
-Call healthcare provider or report to facility if patient develops shortness of breath, altered mental status or severe sleepiness, inability to eat/drink or walk, or has any other significant change in condition.
-If the patient worsens and needs to be transported to a facility, the patient and accompanying family member must be provided with masks prior to transport by the community health worker.