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A safe home for all

A safe home for all
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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

Know the Covid-19 symptoms
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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

Designate an isolation room
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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.

Choose one caregiver

Choose one caregiver
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Someone is going to need to step up and take care of the sick family member in the hot zone. Don’t draw straws. “Select the healthiest person in the house who is least likely get complications from Covid-19 if infected,” says Dr Nanos. “This person will be in charge of food, medicine, comfort, reassurance, changing the linens, cleaning the room and helping with bathing and personal hygiene if necessary.”

It’s also the caregiver’s responsibility to monitor the person for worsening symptoms. The CDC says to seek immediate medical attention in the event of emergency warnings signs, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and blueish lips or face.

Nobody, except the caregiver, should enter the isolation room – and that includes pets. When you’re sick, kisses or snuggles with your dog or cat can be quite comforting, but refrain. While the CDC is only aware of a few cases where pets were infected with Covid-19 after close contact with people, it’s still wise to limit contact with pets and animals if you think you have coronavirus.

Wondering whether your dog is safe from coronavirus? Read this to learn more.

Wear masks and gloves

Wear masks and gloves
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Now, it’s time to gear up properly to reduce the chances of virus transmission. “Have the sick person wear a face mask and disposable gloves when other people come into their room,” says Krupin. “Caregivers should wear a face mask and use latex gloves when entering the room of the sick person or coming close to them with food and medications.”

Masks and gloves must be treated as contaminated after use and disposed of properly (although homemade face masks can be washed and reused). Always wash your hands after touching contaminated masks and gloves, especially after coming out of the hot zone. Dr Nanos also suggests wearing a hair covering and gown (or designated clothes) for that room only.

Here’s what doctors what you know about masks and the coronavirus.

Disinfect the entire house

Disinfect the entire house
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You have no way of knowing what the sick person touched prior to entering their isolation room, so it’s time for a deep clean. “Assume they have touched everything and disinfect all household surfaces thoroughly,” says Dr Nanos.

Choose coronavirus-killing cleaning products and get to work on every table, chair, doorknob, light switch, telephone, electronic device (keyboards, mouse, tablets, phones, remote controls, etc) cabinet handle, desk, countertop, toilet, sink, kitchen appliance and anything else frequently touched in the home.

The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves while cleaning and disinfecting, and suggests following the instructions on the product labels to ensure safe and effective use.

Check out these cleaning products that can kill coronavirus in your home.

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Wash contaminated dishes, clothes and linens

Wash contaminated dishes, clothes and linens
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The caregiver will need to maintain a more vigilant level of cleanliness when it comes to handling anything in the sick person’s room and bringing it out into shared spaces. The CDC says to handle any used dishes, glasses and cutlery with gloves before washing with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. The CDC also recommends leaving a dedicated, lined garbage bin in the isolation room and using gloves when disposing of household garbage.

When it comes time for laundering clothes, bedding and towels, use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely. The good news is they don’t need to be washed separately from other household laundry, but do avoid shaking the dirty laundry, as it could spread germs. Don’t forget to disinfect the clothes hamper between loads.

Remain vigilant about handwashing and face touching

Remain vigilant about handwashing and face touching
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Just as you’ve been hearing nonstop for weeks, washing your hands frequently remains incredibly important – and even more so with a sick person in the house.

“The single best defence for all of us is still frequent handwashing with regular soap and water,” says Dr Nanos. “And if you don’t have access to soap and water, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with greater than 60% alcohol.”

She also says to disinfect your phone at the same time that you disinfect your hands, and to avoid touching your face or putting your phone to your face if you have not had the opportunity to disinfect your hands or your phone.

“Remember, you can’t actually catch the virus through your hands,” she says. “It’s when your hands touch your eyes, nose, or mouth that you have the potential to become infected. We touch our faces at least 200 times per day without noticing.”

Stay in isolation for at least 72 hours after symptoms are gone

Stay in isolation for at least 72 hours after symptoms are gone
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If your sick family member starts to feel better, that doesn’t mean you’re all out of the woods yet. “Isolation remains until he or she has gone 72 hours without any symptoms whatsoever,” says Dr Nanos. “The medical community doesn’t have a lot of information about how long you are contagious after you’ve had the virus.” The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your doctor and local health authorities.

Read these tips on how to survive isolation when you have kids.

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Source: RD.com

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