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  • Suspect You Have COVID-19? How To Self-Isolate When You Are With Family At Home

    If you don’t have a spare room, staying away from the sick person is key.
    by Kate Borbon .
Suspect You Have COVID-19? How To Self-Isolate When You Are With Family At Home
PHOTO BY iStock
  • To help slow down to the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases worldwide, the public has been asked to stay home as much as possible. Some have also been asked to self-quarantine or self-isolate when there is a possibility of having the disease.

    The difference between self-isolation, self-quarantine, and social distancing

    In an interview with The Hub, Crystal Watson, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, explains that self-quarantine is “staying in place, either at home or elsewhere, for fourteen days because you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.”

    On the other hand, self-isolation is isolating yourself from everyone else in your home after you start showing symptoms of COVID-19.

    Meanwhile, social distancing are tactics people use to separate themselves from others to lessen their risk of infection. These tactics include avoiding mass gatherings and refraining from greeting others with a handshake or an embrace.

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    Who’s required to self-isolate and how long should it last?

    According to the Department of Health (DOH), those who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 are recommended to stay home. Individuals who think they may have COVID-19 should avoid interacting with their families, Assistant Health Secretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire adds.

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    According to Watson, the symptoms signaling the need for self-isolation include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. She advises people with manageable symptoms to stay home.

    If the symptoms worsen, it’s time to go to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should seek medical attention if you develop warning signs like trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

    The CDC says people who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate until their symptoms subside or at least seven days after their symptoms first appeared to be sure they are no longer contagious, The Hub writes.

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    To know when you can take the sick person out of self-isolation, the DOH says everyone in the house should be in good condition and exhibit no symptoms after 14 days. If another member of the family starts showing symptoms at the end of the 14-day isolation period, that person needs to stay at home for seven more days. Note that cough may last for a few weeks (notify your Barangay Health Emergency Response Team if the cough lasts until the end of the quarantine).

    The DOH also urges those with history of traveling to areas that have been affected by COVID-19 and those who might have been exposed to the disease to go on self-isolation for at least 14 days, whether they have symptoms or not.

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    How to self-isolate within your household

    If someone in your family is sick, the CDC recommends having her use a separate room and bathroom to minimize her contact with others in the household. She should be provided with disposable face masks and avoid sharing personal items with others, like glasses and utensils.

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    During the self-isolation, the DOH says the patient's temperature should be checked twice a day (the normal temperature is 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius). She must refrain from interacting with any members of the household, especially anyone who is is a senior citizen, pregnant, or has a weakened immune system.

    The DOH adds that the patient's clothes should be washed separately from those of other members of the household. Avoid shaking the dust off of dirty clothes to minimize the possibility of the virus clinging to other parts of your home.

    The CDC adds a sick person should cover her mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, wash her hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoid touching her face with unwashed hands, and wear a face mask when she needs to interact with other people. The person caring for her also needs to wear a face mask whenever entering her room.

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    If you don’t have another room in your house for the sick person to use, have her stay at least six feet away from others in the household, The Conversation writes. Again, make sure the caregiver wears a facemask to minimize his or her risk of infection. Shared bathrooms should be disinfected once daily, says the DOH.

    How to protect the rest of your family

    If someone in the family is sick, everyone else in the household should also practice protective measures, like washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, staying one meter away from the sick person, and practicing proper cough etiquette, according to the DOH.

    All frequently-touched surfaces, like doorknobs, tables, light switches, toilets, and phones, should be cleaned AND disinfected daily. To clean those surfaces, the CDC suggests using detergent or soap and water. To disinfect those surfaces, use disinfectants appropriate for them. Household disinfectants that are registered to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work, says the CDC. (Click here for a list of options you can consider.)

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