Combatting COVID-19: All you need to know about home isolation

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A senior Dubai Health Authority (DHA) official has detailed home isolation guidelines for COVID-19 patients, and tips on how to manage their health and mental well-being.

Dr. Hind Al Awadhi, Head of Health Promotion and Education at the DHA, stressed the need for everyone who undergoes a PCR for medical reasons to begin self-isolation at home even before they get their test results.

"This is crucial to protect your family members and the community at large. This means that other than visiting the centre for the PCR test, you should not go to work or school or step outside your home until you receive the results.

"In fact, at home, the person who has taken the test should isolate especially if they show any flu-like symptoms and should follow all precautionary measures."

The 10-day isolation period, she added, begins from the date of undergoing the PCR test.

"For asymptomatic patients, the period of isolation will be 10 days," Al Awadi said, urging people to speak to their family physicians first to "assess (the) medical situation and determine if (they) can isolate at home".

The treatment for mild COVID-19 cases are similar to that of a viral infection. "It is also recommended to monitor your oximeter (blood oxygen level, SpO2) readings twice daily," Al Awadi added, stressing that medical assistance must be sought if the "patient experiences breathing difficulties" during home isolation.

“COVID-19 cases that require telemedicine consultation can do so by availing the DHA’s Doctor for Every Citizen telemedicine service. We also have two dedicated COVID-19 centres - Al Khawaneej and Al Bada - for patients who are experiencing symptoms that need medical intervention,” said Al Awadhi.

Patients are advised to follow a healthy diet, with adequate fluid intake.

The 10-day isolation period will end when the patient is symptom-free without any medication for three consecutive days. However, if the symptoms persist after the 10-day mark, medical assistance must be sought and the isolation period extended.

Al Awadhi said family members and other close contacts must also home-quarantine for 10 days. They must undertake a PCR test if they develop symptoms.

"If a close contact tests negative they must still complete the 10-day home-quarantine period. This is mandatory," she added.

"After completion of the isolation period, the person who was infected with COVID-19 must continue to build their immunity with a healthy diet, and continue taking multivitamins as per the doctor’s advice."

Steps to follow during home-isolation:

  1. Stay in a room with attached bathroom
  2. If you have to share a bathroom, only leave your room to use the bathroom.
  3. Use disinfectant wipes or disinfectant liquid to clean commonly used surfaces after each use. You should clean and disinfect surfaces like faucet knobs, door handles and the toilet seat lid to protect others in the house.
  4. Ensure you wear a mask.
  5. Food for COVID-19 patient must be placed outside the room door in disposable containers.
  6. The COVID-19 patient must collect all the trash in a garbage bag and sanitise their hands or use  gloves when sealing it.
  7. The house member, who disposes off the trash must wear a mask and gloves.
  8. The infected person must collect the laundry and place it in a disposable laundry bag in the room.
  9. The household member handling the laundry must wear a mask and gloves. They must use a disinfection liquid and detergent to wash it, and clean the washing machine with a disinfection liquid and complete one cycle of washing with water on high temperature. They must wipe down the inside of the washing machine and common touch points with anti-bacterial wipes.
  10. Alternatively, laundries approved by the Dubai Municipality will accept your laundry after informing them that they've been used by a COVID-19 patient.
  11. Disinfect the room and bathroom of the COVID-19 patient by a company approved by the Dubai Municipality after they receive the all-clear. The firm must be informed about how the space was used by a COVID-19 patient, who is advised to clean all touch points and objects in the room first.
  12. Once the isolation period is completed, it is not mandatory to take a PCR test. However, the person should ensure symptoms have subsided and the person is fever-free for three days.

Mental wellbeing during COVID-19:

  1. Monitor your health to check if symptoms can be managed at home.
  2. Keep in touch with your family physician to feel empowered and in-charge of your health and wellbeing.
  3. Talk to your family members and friends regularly using digital technology so that you can see them to avoid feeling socially distanced.
  4. Rest as much as possible.
  5. To avoid stiffness in the body, do some light stretches.
  6. Read books that provide positive messages.
  7. Try using meditation apps or videos to practice 10 minutes of mindfulness daily.
  8. Journal and practice gratitude.

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