Home hotspot: How does one self-isolate in a shared house?
While most people are practising preventive methods such as social distancing, self-quarantining, and self-isolating in order to avoid coming into contact with or spreading the coronavirus, people are still wondering what happens when you or someone you live with is diagnosed with COVID-19?
Dealing with a hotspot at home
Jaimie Meyer, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, told Health that intrafamily spread is common and responsible for clusters of outbreaks within communities.
This is mostly due to the fact that the novel coronavirus is spread primarily from person to person through droplets that become aerosolised and propelled when someone coughs or sneezes, Meyer told the publication.
Because the virus can also survive on various surfaces for certain periods of time, it is also thought to spread from person to person through direct contact with those surfaces. Both of those things make the home of someone living with COVID-19 a hotspot for others to pick up the disease.
That’s why it’s crucial for those showing symptoms to self-isolate.
“If you are feeling ill with symptoms of COVID-19 or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is important to stay home to prevent transmitting the virus to people in your community and to stay isolated within your home to prevent transmitting the virus to other people in your household,” Meyer explained.
While she doesn’t think people are intentionally disregarding isolation procedures, she points out that it can be logistically challenging and potentially confusing as guidelines are changing so often.
“Isolation can also be psychologically challenging and distressing, especially if you don’t feel well.”
Lock it down, no physical contact and good airflow
She points to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on how to care for and live with someone who is sick with the coronavirus.
One of the first steps to take is basically locking down the home by not allowing visitors in unless they have an “essential need” to be there. And while, a caregiver can help the patient with their basic needs in the home – like grocery getting, prescription filling, and other personal needs – they should be making very little, if any, physical contact with them. In that case, sharing a room with someone who is sick is not a good idea.
“If possible, designate a bedroom and bathroom for their use only,” Meyer instructed, adding that good airflow is also key. “Close the door but open a window to improve the ventilation of the space.”
If your caregiver must enter the room, make sure to wear a surgical mask.
The sharing of items
What’s more, you should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, it should be washed thoroughly.
“And, if you must clean the patient’s room or bathroom, extra care should be taken to sanitise potentially contaminated surfaces. The same goes for washing the clothes or bedding of the infected person, which should be immediately removed and washed if they’re contaminated with any bodily fluids (blood, stool, saliva, mucus, etc.). All of this should be done while wearing gloves, which should be disposed of after use, so you can wash your hands immediately.
If you are the individual isolating, make sure you take care of your health. “Drink plenty of fluids, rest, pay attention to your symptoms, and call your doctor if you have difficulty breathing,” said Meyer.
Kim Chipendu is a columnist for Healthy Organic Lifestyle.