A safe home for all
It’s one of the biggest fears for households around the world right now – a member of the family suddenly starts displaying coronavirus symptoms. The symptoms of the virus can include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, as well as fatigue, aches and pains and a sore throat, says the World Health Organization. (Less common symptoms are diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.)
If you or someone you live with has Covid-19 but isn’t sick enough to go to the hospital, there are best practices that should be followed at home to prevent and stop the spread of the virus. Here’s what you need to know about creating a safe space in your home for the sick patient while also protecting other members of the household.
Know the Covid-19 symptoms
Covid-19 can spread from person to person – mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Therefore, it’s imperative that you take quick action to protect other members of your household. While it may only be a cold or the flu, now is no time to take chances.
“If someone has presumed or suspected Covid-19, they should be self-isolating,” says Dr Georgine Nanos, a specialist in epidemiology. “Symptoms may appear similar to the flu, with congestion, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, cough, fever and possible vomiting and diarrhoea. If you have questions or concerns, you should consult your doctor via a virtual medical or telehealth visit. The most worrisome symptom is shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.”
Designate an isolation room
At your healthcare provider’s recommendation, create an isolation room also known as a “hot zone” for the sick person. “People who are sick should not go anywhere they can spread the illness,” says Paul Krupin, a retired environmental scientist who trained as an EMT and wilderness first aid responder. “This means they must stay in one place in the house and avoid going into rooms that other people will use.”
How do you select the isolation room? Choose a comfortable room where the person can remain for the entire duration of their illness. “Ideally the room should have windows that could open to circulate air and provide natural sunlight, and a door that can shut as well,” says Dr Nanos. “The door should stay closed at all times and ideally the room should have a bathroom attached or nearby.”
So what happens if the infected person doesn’t have access to a private bathroom? They should take extra precautions to use gloves and a face mask when using a common bathroom. Dr Nanos says they must also close the toilet lid before flushing, because “we are learning the Covid-19 virus can be spread through faecal contamination.” The bathroom should be thoroughly disinfected by the caregiver after they leave.
Here’s what you need to do to ensure you stay sane while in self-isolation.