How To Care of COVID-19 Patients with Mild Symptoms & Contact Management?

Coronavirus has spread all over the world with rapid succession, and one of the best ways to manage it is isolation. The disease is called COVID-9 and is caused by a virus known as – “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2“. Respiratory droplets spread respiratory infections such as this. Droplet transmission can occur when one stands close to a person who sneezes and has the virus, and this spray comes in contact with the uninfected person’s mouth, nose, or eyes. Transmission can occur through the fomites in the environment around the infected person too.

Management of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 patients who have been identified as those with the infection have to be in isolation and looked after in a hospital or healthcare facility. The emergency treatment of the patient has to be started based on the severity of the case. Priority is to be given to serious cases, and at-risk people – patients with critical and severe illnesses or people above 60who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer.

Mild cases can be isolated and treated for symptoms in other places. People with no risk factors and mild symptoms can also alternatively be isolated at home.

Home care for patients with suspected COVID-19 & Mild Symptoms

Persons with suspected COVID-19 and having mild symptoms need to take care of. For people with mild symptoms, hospitalization may not be possible. These patients can be cared for at home by family members, and as long as there are follow-ups. Home care is an option when inpatient care is unsafe or unavailable. Patients without underlying conditions and mild symptoms can be cared for at home.

A trained professional must assess whether the home setting is suitable for isolation and treatment. He or she can assess whether the family and patient can adhere to precautions and can manage safety concerns. There has to be constant contact between the health care professional and the patient’s family. The patient and the caregiver or family have to be monitored. The following are the points that have to be considered when isolating a patient at home.

  • Education of the patient and family about personal hygiene and proper care of the patient with proper safety standards to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread.
  • Minimize shared space and limiting the movement of the patient inside the house. If there are shared spaces, they should be properly ventilated.
  • The patient must be isolated in a single room with good ventilation.
  • Family members must stay in a different room. In cases that isn’t possible, there must be a distance of at least 1 meter from the sick person. This could mean sleeping in different beds as a precaution.
  • The number of caregivers must be limited. Ideally, only one person must be tasked with this. Someone who is healthy and has no underlying health conditions is a good candidate for this. There shouldn’t be any visitors to the house until the patient has fully recovered and doesn’t test positive for COVID-19 anymore.
  • Keep hands cleans after contact with the patient or his immediate environment—Wash hands before and after making food, before you eat and after using the toilet. Ideally, wash hands whenever they look dirty. If hands don’t look dirty, then use an alcohol-based rub.
  • When you wash hands with water and soap, use paper towels that can be discarded. However, if they aren’t available, then use clean towels and replace them frequently.
  • For the containment of respiratory secretions, a medical mask must be given to the sick person. This must be changed daily and worn as much as possible. Patients who are unable to use masks must use tissues or handkerchiefs to cover their nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. Handkerchiefs made of cloth must be washed appropriately with water and soap.
  • A sick person’s caregiver must use a mask covering his mouth or nose, when in the same room as the patient. This mask mustn’t be touched while in use. If it gets wet or dirty, it must be immediately replaced with a dry and clean one.
  • The mask must be removed in the right manner – do not touch the front of the mask. Instead, remove it from the side and dispose of it. Then hands must be washed.
  • Caregivers must avoid direct contact with the body fluids of the patient. This could mean stool, oral, or respiratory secretions. Disposable gloves must be used when handling oral or respiratory secretion or disposal of urine, stool, and other types of waste. Hands must be washed or sanitized before and after removing masks and gloves.
  • Gloves or masks mustn’t be reused.
  • There should be separate, dedicated eating utensils and linens for the patient. This could be cleaned properly with water and soap and then reused.
  • Disinfect and clean surfaces in the patient’s room daily. Especially those surfaces that are touched frequently – bedroom furniture, bed frames, and bedside tables. Clean using regular detergent or soap and then disinfect with a cleaner having 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.
  • Toilet and bathroom surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily. They must be cleaned with normal soap and then disinfected with a cleaner having 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.
  • The patient’s bed linens, clothes, and towels must be washed in hot water, at 60 to 90 degrees centigrade, using common laundry detergent and then must be dried well. The materials must be placed in a laundry bag, and they mustn’t come in contact with other people’s clothes or skin.
  • Protective clothing like aprons and gloves must be used when cleaning the surface that has been in contact with the patient. Or handling materials that are soiled with body fluids. One can use single-use gloves that have to be disposed of after use. Or reusable gloves can also be used, but they must be washed and disinfected like other surfaces (washed in soap and water and disinfected with a cleaner that has 0.1% sodium hypochlorite). Always wash hands before and after using gloves.
  • Masks, gloves, and other waste materials must be put in a bin with a lid in the patient’s room and then later disposed of properly.
  • Avoid exposure to other items that the patient uses, such as sharing drinks, food, washcloths, towels, dishes, or bed linen.

Contact Management

Caregivers and healthcare workers looking after infected persons are contacts, and they must monitor their own health for 14 days post the last day of contact with the patient. A contact could be a person who is involved in the following, starting two days before and fourteen days after symptom onset in the patient.

  • Has direct face to face contact with an infected person within a range that is less than 1 meter, and the exposure is for more than 15 minutes.
  • Provides direct care to an infected person without using proper protective clothing and gear.
  • Travels in close proximity with an infected person in any form of conveyance (that is closer than a required distance of 1 meter).
  • Stays in a close environment or the same environment as an infected person for any amount of time. This could mean sharing a classroom, workspace, household, or any gathering.

Caregivers must be in touch with healthcare professionals, and the health of the contacts or caregivers must be monitored and reviewed regularly. They must be given instructions on what to do if they feel unwell, which care facility they must go to, the modes of transportation to be used, and any other precautions that they must take.

If a contact or caregiver develops the symptoms, then the following have to be followed.

  • Notify the medical facility that they are going to, about the arrival of a contact that is symptomatic.
  • While traveling to the care facility, the person must wear a mask.
  • Symptomatic contact must not use public transportation. An ambulance could be called, or a private vehicle with windows open is an option.
  • The affected contact must maintain respiratorily and hand hygiene. He must sit or stand at least 1 meter away from others while in transit or in the medical facility.
  • Surfaces that become soiled during transit must be cleaned with soap and then disinfected with a 0.5% diluted solution of bleach.

COVID-19 disease spreads very fast, and care is needed to ensure that the infection causing droplets and surfaces have to be cleaned and sanitized. Always talk to health professionals before making any decision about the care of an infected person. Do not decide on your own, about isolation and testing. Take care while you are caring for a sick person and be alert about your own health too.

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