FAQ: What to do immediately after testing positive for coronavirus

A majority of COVID-19 patients recover with mild symptoms, or are asymptomatic.
A health worker wearing mask and gloves collecting sample from a man for coronavirus test
A health worker wearing mask and gloves collecting sample from a man for coronavirus test
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Amid the second wave of coronavirus infections in India, thousands of people are testing positive every day. As of Monday, May 31, India has 20,26,092 active cases. While many states are under lockdown, the threat of the pandemic has not yet passed, and there are chances of contracting the virus even if one is careful. If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, breathlessness, fatigue, loss of sense of taste/smell, etc, or have been around someone who has COVID-19, it is important to get tested. If the test comes back positive, here’s a guide on what to do next.

The first thing that one must do upon testing positive is to isolate so that others in the vicinity are not at risk of contracting the virus as well. If possible, it would be ideal to isolate in a room with a separate bathroom, to reduce the risk of contact. Even in isolation, it is important for the patient as well as caretakers to regularly wash their hands and sanitise surfaces. It is also advised to mark the date on which the symptoms were first experienced to know when quarantine ends and keep track of how symptoms progress. The next step after isolation is to contact a doctor, even if the symptoms are mild or asymptomatic. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and comorbidities, the doctor can prescribe medicines and supplements, as well as give instructions on dosage. It is also advised to keep the doctor’s number handy, in case the symptoms worsen or even for general doubts.

Two instruments are must-haves for COVID-19 patients – a thermometer and a pulse oximeter. COVID-19 affects the respiratory system and for this reason, it is imperative that patients regularly check their blood oxygen levels, especially between the 5th and 10th day of contracting the virus, as this is when patients are most susceptible to symptoms taking a turn for the worse. If the patient’s SPO2 levels dip below 95%, it is recommended that they are hospitalised and receive oxygen support. For this reason, it is advised that patients also keep a record of their blood oxygen levels.

It is important to note that even those who have recovered from COVID-19 must still take all appropriate precautions like wearing masks, regularly washing their hands and maintaining physical distance in public.


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