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On 27 May, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) established the option of home isolation for very mild or presymptomatic COVID-19 patients. The option comes with the mark that the patient's residence has the facility to follow safe home isolation.
Currently, all suspected and confirmed cases of coronavirus disease are being isolated and managed in a hospital setting with the intent to break the chain of transmission. During this containment phase, the patients are clinically assigned as very mild/mild, moderate or severe - which is then used to admit them to COVID Care Center, Dedicated COVID Health Center or Dedicated COVID Hospital respectively .
For the patient to be considered for home isolation, they should be identified as very mild or presymptomatic. "However, very mild/ presymptomatic patients having the requisite facility at his/her residence for self-isolation will have the option for home isolation," the government said in a statement .
Who Can Opt For Home Isolation?
According to the latest set of guidelines from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, coronavirus patients who have been clinically assigned as a very mild case or pre-symptomatic case by the treating medical officer can opt for home isolation and are also required to fill in an undertaking on self-isolation agreement .
Here are the eligibility guidelines for home isolation:
- The patient should have the required facility at their residence for self-isolation and also for quarantining the family members to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
- A caregiver should be available to provide care on a 24 x7 bases.
- There should be regular communication between the caregiver and hospital for the entire duration of home isolation.
- The caregiver and family member of the patient should take Hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer .
- The patient should download the Aarogya Setu App - a mobile application developed by the Government of India to connect essential health services with the people of India in our combined fight against COVID-19 - which should remain active at all times .
- The patient shall agree to monitor his or her health and regularly inform their health status to the District Surveillance Officer for further follow up by the surveillance teams.
- The patient should fill in an undertaking on self-isolation and shall follow home quarantine guidelines.
What Are The Guidelines For Caregivers And Close Contacts?
The set of guidelines developed by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare also includes the steps to be considered by caregivers, while looking after COVID-19 patients in home isolation.
- The caregiver should wear a triple layer medical mask when in the same room with the coronavirus patient.
- The caregiver should avoid touching their own face, nose or mouth.
- Hand hygiene must be ensured following contact with the patients or the immediate environment and should also be practised before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet.
- After using soap and water to wash hands, use disposable paper towels to dry hands than cloth towels. However, if paper towels are unavailable, use clean cloth towels and replace them when they become wet.
- Avoid direct contact with body fluids of the patient, particularly oral or respiratory secretions.
- Use disposable gloves while handling the patient and wash your hands with soap before and after removing gloves.
- Avoid exposure to potentially contaminated items, such as sharing cigarettes, eating utensils, drinks, used towels or bed linen.
- Utensils and dishes used by the patient should be cleaned with soap and water, wearing gloves and the utensils can be re-used.
- Use a triple-layer medical mask and disposable gloves while cleaning or handling surfaces, clothing or linen used by the patient.
- The caregiver should make sure that the patient follows the prescribed treatment.
- The caregiver and all close contact must self-monitor their health with daily temperature monitoring and report promptly if they develop any symptom suggestive of COVID-19 - such as fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.
What Are The Instructions For Patients Undergoing Home Isolation?
When a patient, who has been clinically assigned as a very mild case or pre-symptomatic case by the treating medical officer, he or she can opt for home isolation. And they are required to follow the below-mentioned instructions.
- The COVID-19 patient should use a triple layer medical mask at all times and should discard the mask after 8 hours of use or earlier if they become wet or visibly soiled.
- The masks should only be discarded after disinfecting it with 1 per cent Sodium Hypochlorite - a compound that can be effectively used for surface purification, bleaching, odour removal and water disinfection .
- The patient must stay in the identified room and away from other people at home, especially elderlies and those with conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, renal disease etc. .
- Hands must be washed often with soap and water for at least 40 seconds or clean with alcohol-based sanitiser.
- The patient must strictly follow the physician's instructions and medication advice.
- The patient must self-monitor his or her health with daily temperature monitoring and report any deterioration of symptoms.
- The patient should not share personal items with other people.
- The patient should follow respiratory etiquettes all the time - such as handwashing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic handwash.
- The patient must take rest and drink a lot of fluids to maintain adequate hydration.
On A Final Note…
COVID-19 patients who are in home isolation are advised to seek immediate medical attention if there are serious signs or symptoms like difficulty in breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, mental confusion or inability to arouse, developing bluish discolourations of the lip and/or face.