As the number of coronavirus cases in the country soared to 73, the Health Ministry has prepared a draft set of guidelines to be followed by those quarantined at home. The guidelines also include tips for the use of masks.
What To Do During Home Quarantine?
- Those quarantined at home should stay in a well-ventilated single-room, preferably with an attached or separate toilet.
- If another family member needs to stay in the same room, it's advisable to maintain a distance of at least a metre between the two.
- Quarantined individuals must stay away from elderly people, pregnant women, children and persons with co-morbidities within the household as their immune system may be low.
- Restrict the patient's movement within the house and under no circumstances can they be allowed to attend any social/religious gathering, such as weddings or condolences, etc.
- Quarantined individuals should avoid sharing household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with others at home.
- Wear disposable surgical masks at all times. These must be changed every 6 to 8 hours and must not be reused.
- Masks used by patients, caregivers, and those who came in close contact with quarantined individuals during home care should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution (5 per cent) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1 per cent) and then burnt.
- Family members of quarantined individuals must use disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces or handling soiled linen. No visitors must be allowed.
- In case quarantined individuals become symptomatic, all close contacts will be home quarantined (for 14 days) and followed up with for an additional 14 days, or till the report of such case turns out negative on lab testing.
How To Wear And Dispose Masks?
There are specific dos and don'ts released by the ministry.
- For those unsure of which mask to choose, the ministry has said: "Medical masks of different sizes and shapes are available. The common ones are flat, pleated masks of woven fabric which cover the nose and mouth and are affixed behind the head with straps/elastic fasteners. There are also conical, or duck bill-shaped masks, with (or without) valves that fit over the nose and mouth but are costlier."
- Medical masks should not be used by healthy persons who do not show symptoms "because it creates a false sense of security".
- Refrain from touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes. Ensure you wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds each time.
- If a person develops a cough or fever, s/he needs to switch to medical masks
- Use of three-layer medical masks when ill will prevent the infection from spreading. Do not forget to wash your hands frequently as well.
- Close family members of suspected/confirmed cases undergoing home care should also use three-layer medical masks.
The ministry has also given guidelines on how to use masks. These include making sure they are held face-down while being unfolded to ensure there are no gaps on either side.
The guidelines also say to fit the flexible nose piece (a metallic strip that can easily be located) over the bridge of the nose to ensure nobody else is infected. The government has also warned against merely dumping masks once used. Instead one should disinfect them using ordinary bleach solution (5 per cent) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1 per cent) and then dispose of them by burning it.
COVID-19 emerged in December last year in China's Wuhan province and has now spread to over 100 countries. As of March 9, India has 42 reported cases; most of these are individuals who had travelled to affected countries.
The health ministry also said coronavirus causes "a minor illness in majority of patients with symptoms of fever and or cough and a small proportion of such persons may progress to severe disease with difficulty in breathing."