The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, has announced guidelines for home quarantine, which are as follows.
Scope for home quarantine
Detection of a travel-related or unrelated suspect case of COVID-19 will be followed by rapid isolation of such individuals in designated health facilities and line listing of all contacts. Home quarantine is applicable for all such contacts of suspected and confirmed individuals of COVID-19.
The intervention will be limited to the initial phase in India and would report only:
(i) travel-related cases
(ii) focal clusters arising from a travel-related or unrelated case where cluster containment strategy is adopted
(iii) individuals coming from COVID-19 affected areas where community and local transmission is evident
Definition of contact
A contact is defined as any healthy person who has been in association with an infected person or a contaminated environment. So, the person is exposed and at a higher risk of developing the disease.
In the context of the COVID pandemic, a contact is:
- A person living in the same household as a COVID-19 individual
- A person who has had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 patient or his/her infectious secretions without the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) or with a breach of PPE
- A person who had face-to-face contact or was in a closed environment with a COVID-19 patient at a distance of less than 1 metre, including during air travel
The epidemiological link may have occurred within the 14 days before the onset of the illness in the patient under consideration.
Instructions for contacts being home quarantined
The home quarantined person must:
- Stay in a well-ventilated single-room that preferably has an attached or separate toilet. If another family member requires to stay in the same room, the two should maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from each other
- Stay away from older people, children, pregnant women, and individuals with co-morbidities within the household
- Restrict his/her movement within the house
- Refrain from attending any religious or social gatherings like weddings, condolences, etc.
A home quarantined person must also follow at all times the below mentioned public health measures:
- Wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- Wear a surgical mask at all times. The mask must be changed and disposed of every 6-8 hours. The quarantiner must never reuse disposable masks
- Avoid sharing household items like drinking glasses, cups, dishes, eating utensils, bedding, towels, or other such items with other people at home
- Masks used by quarantiners, caregivers, and close contacts during home care must be disinfected with sodium hypochlorite solution (1%) or ordinary bleach solution (5%), and then disposed of by burning or deep burial
- The quarantiner must consider the used mask as potentially infected
- If symptoms like cough, fever, difficulty in breathing, etc. appear, he/she should immediately inform the nearest health centre or call 011-23978046
Instructions for the family members of persons being home quarantined
- Only an assigned family member must be tasked with taking care of the quarantined person
- Avoid direct contact with skin or sharing soiled linen
- Use disposable gloves while handling soiled linen or cleaning the surfaces
- Wash hands after removing gloves
- Visitors must not be allowed
- In case the person being home quarantined gets symptomatic, all their close contacts must be home quarantined for 14 days, followed up for an additional 14-day period until the report of the quarantiner turns out to be negative on lab testing
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces like bed frames, tables, etc. in the quarantiner’s room daily with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution
- Daily clean and disinfect toilet surfaces with regular household bleach solutions or phenolic disinfectants
- Clean clothes and other linen used by the quarantiner separately using common household detergent and dry them
Duration of home quarantine
The home quarantine period is of 14 days from contact with a confirmed case. It can be less than 14 days if an earlier suspected case, of whom the index person is a contact, turns out to be negative on laboratory testing.
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