As coronavirus continues to infect and kill thousands across the world, many are faced with the difficult challenge of looking after their relatives or family members showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that anyone with fever, cough and breathing complications should follow the directions of their local health authority.
Isolating persons with coronavirus symptoms as much as possible within the home is the first step. If that is not possible, then it suggests maintaining maximum distance from other people, reports World Economic Forum.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that it will not be possible in the more populated developing countries. “That’s why we say we don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO suggests that the person with COVID-19 symptoms stays in a well-ventilated single room with open windows and an open door.
Anyone with coronavirus should avoid using shared spaces wherever possible, and bathrooms and kitchens should be well ventilated too.
Other members of the house should stay in a different room or, if that is not possible, maintain a distance of at least three feet from the ill person and sleep in a separate bed.
WHO suggests the healthy person of the family to take up the role of caregiver – no one else should visit the patient until they are symptom-free.
The one with good medical situation should wash hands after every contact with the patient, as well as before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet, and whenever hands look dirty, WHO says.
After washing hands with soap and water, it is preferable to use disposable paper towels to dry them. If these are not available, WHO suggests for using clean cloth towels and replace those frequently.
The WHO says both the ill person and the caregiver should wear medical masks.
The sick person should use separate cups, dishes, utensils, towels and bed linen. And all these items should be washed separately using soap and water.
Breastfeeding mothers can continue to feed their babies but should wear a mask when near the babies, says the WHO.
Any surfaces and objects that have been touched by the sick person should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. It’s thought coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has produced a detailed guide to disinfection at home.
It is important that the sick person rests in bed, eats nutritious food and maintains steady intake of fluids.
Monitoring a patient’s symptoms is vital. For some people, the virus will have only mild effects. But in serious cases it can cause pneumonia. If someone has difficulty breathing, one should immediately contact medical services for help.
Self-isolating as a household
Heath advice varies between countries as to when you should notify healthcare providers that a person is showing symptoms.
The WHO says anyone with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention and follow the directions of their local health authority.
COVID-19 is spread by droplets released by infected people when they sneeze or cough. This is why self-isolation within the home is important. Once one person in the home is infected, it is important for the rest of the household to stay indoors and avoid contact with anyone else.
The UK health authorities say anyone who has coronavirus symptoms should not leave their home for seven days.
Communities pulling together
In many countries, online delivery services are prioritising supplies of food for people who are self-isolating. Community groups have also been formed to deliver food and medicines to those who cannot go out because of coronavirus.
The only way to be sure that a person has COVID-19 is through testing. In South Korea, mass testing has helped contain the virus’ spread and reduce death toll by isolating those carrying the infection without the need for a total lockdown.
In other nations, like the UK, testing has so far only been undertaken when people are admitted to hospital. Home testing kits are being ordered for use in some countries but are not yet widely available.
The WHO Director-General says each country needs its own solution for isolating people with COVID-19. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said, noting the WHO is expecting communities to find the best way of protecting themselves, based on WHO guidelines.
What’s the current situation?
Bangladesh on Tuesday reported five more deaths and 41 new cases.
So far, the country has confirmed 164 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.
Meanwhile, the global death toll from coronavirus jumped to 74,697 on Tuesday morning.
COVID-19, first reported in China in December, has so far infected 1,346,566 people around the world, according to worldometer.