The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India is seeing several people test positive for coronavirus and while many need hospitalisation and critical care treatment, a large majority are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. So what should you do if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 but are experiencing only mild or no symptoms? The Union government recommends home isolation, to begin with, so as to not put further stress on the healthcare system.
Who is eligible for home isolation?
As per the latest guidelines issued by the Union government in April this year, people who test positive for coronavirus and have mild or no symptoms can isolate at home if their residence has a separate room and washroom, where they can stay away from other family members. Ideally, a caregiver should also be available to provide care on a 24x7 basis.
Older patients who are above 60 years, those with co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease, cerebro-vascular disease and those whose immunity could be compromised (HIV patients, transplant recipients, those undergoing cancer therapy etc) are not recommended for home isolation, unless a medical officer has evaluated them and approved it.
Guidelines for home isolation
The Union government guidelines state that the patient must isolate themselves from other household members and stay in a well-ventilated room with cross ventilation. Windows should be kept open to let in some fresh air. If a caregiver is entering the room, both the caregiver and the patient must wear masks, preferably N95 masks.
"Patients must take rest and drink a lot of fluids to maintain adequate hydration. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 40 seconds or clean with alcohol-based sanitiser is also a must," the guidelines state. The person is also advised not to share personal items with other people in the household and ensure sanitisation of surfaces in the room that are touched often, including tabletops, doorknobs, handles.
The government also recommends self-monitoring of blood oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter along with daily temperature, in case the health condition deteriorates. For any medical advice, patients should be in contact with a physician.
A person with mild symptoms can discontinue home isolation at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms (or from the date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and if there no fever for three days. There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over, as per the guidelines.