The coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of people to remain isolated within their homes in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. But what do you do if a family member, roommate, or another loved one becomes ill?
The short answer is to quarantine that person in a different part of the house with a separate bathroom. But that’s not an option in many homes, so regular disinfection practices are essential in a shared home.
The National Institutes of Health has learned that the virus can survive on various surfaces for different amounts of time. For example, COVID-19 can live in stainless steel and plastic for up to three days and up to 24 hours in cardboard.
This is what you need to know
1. CDC: Coronavirus Patients Should Use A Separate Bedroom And Bathroom If Possible And Wear A Face Mask Around Family Members
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strongly advocated the practice of social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus. That means staying at least six feet away from people. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and White House coronavirus response team coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, say six feet is the recommendation. because that is the distance that the respiratory drops can travel when you sneeze or cough.
That rule also applies within your own home to combat contagion. The CDC says that if someone in your home becomes ill with the virus, it is best to isolate that person in a separate area. The patient must sleep in a different bedroom and use a separate bathroom. If it is your spouse or romantic partner who has become ill, they should not share a bed.
When the infected person approaches other people, they should wear a face mask to prevent the spread of air droplets. If the patient is struggling to breathe and can’t wear a surgical mask, then caregivers should wear face masks instead.
If time permits, experts also recommend turning on the air conditioner or keeping windows open to allow good air flow in shared spaces.
2. Disinfect shared surfaces often and avoid sharing household items like dishes and towels
Children are taught that sharing is a positive attribute, but that is not the case at the moment.
If someone in your home is sick, designate what household items that person can use. For example, patients should have their own plate, cups and cutlery off limits to everyone else. Do not share towels, sheets or pillows. The New Zealand Ministry of Health also advises against preparing food alongside a person infected with COVID-19.
Routine cleanings are also necessary. After using the kitchen items, wash them well with warm soapy water or immediately put them in the dishwasher. CDC recommends disinfecting common areas daily, and the department’s website includes the following on this topic:
“Clean all” high-touch “surfaces, like countertops, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and nightstands, every day. Also, it cleans surfaces that may have blood, feces, or body fluids.
Use a household cleaning spray or washcloth, according to the directions on the label. The labels contain instructions for the safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and ensuring that there is good ventilation while using the product.
And of course, be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds at a time. Do not touch your face, especially after interacting with the patient.
3. NHS: It’s okay to mix clothes in the washing machine, but wear gloves when you touch a patient’s clothes
The National Health Service (NHS), which is the UK’s publicly funded health care system, explains on its website that you can wash everyone’s clothes together in the washing machine. It is not necessary to wash the clothes of a patient with coronavirus separately. However, they recommend not to shake dirty clothes before putting them in the machine.
The Centers for Disease Control also says it’s okay to use regular detergents and bleach. They also recommend washing clothes in hot water if the type of clothing allows it.
If you live with a contagious patient, the CDC advises wearing gloves when touching that person’s clothing, and avoid touching the clothing with any part of your bare skin. This is especially important if clothing has “blood, feces, or body fluids.” The risk of the virus spreading through sweat or tears is small, according to HealthLinkBC.
4. There is no evidence that your pet spreads COVID-19, but health professionals say infected patients should avoid contact with cats and dogs anyway.
Your dog or cat will not infect you with the coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no evidence to suggest that domestic pets can transmit the virus from one person to another. The WHO said in a statement:
“Although there has been one case of an infected dog in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is spread mainly through drops produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. “
The American Veterinary Medical Association has also played down any potential risk of COVID-19 spreading through a dog’s skin. Veterinary Director Gail Golab told the Washington Post: “The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, like countertops and door knobs. Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making them more difficult to contract through touch. “
However, despite these guarantees, the CDC still recommends that dogs or cats stay away from a patient with the coronavirus. Why? Because scientists are still learning about COVID-19 and still not sure if an animal could pose a risk to the patient. The CDC explains:
“Whenever possible, ask another member of your household to take care of your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be near animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after interacting with pets. ”
The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine adds that while the risk of transmission from a dog is low, prevention is better than regret. “Pets can carry the virus with them if they are in an environment where it is present and could serve as a source for other people, including other family members.”
5. High-risk family members should not care for patients with coronavirus
It is not always possible to isolate yourself from an infected family member. For example, as a parent or other caregiver you could not leave a sick child to take care of themselves.
Johns Hopkins University health experts say caregivers should wear face masks when caring for a patient. And if possible, the “Primary caregivers should be those who are not at high risk for COVID-19, meaning those not older than sixty or with underlying health problems.”
For parents who work in “essential” businesses and health centers, and are relying on babysitters to care for their children, Johns Hopkins recommends using a limited number of babysitters. It is best to keep the circle of people in contact with your family as small as possible to mitigate the risk.