With the rise in COVID-19 infections, many families are finding themselves required to quarantine with a family member who is positive, as moving to a separate household or quarantine site is not an option for everyone.
Members of the household who have been in contact with the positive patient need to practice increased vigilance in terms of social distancing. The difficulty though is in the fact that during quarantine, the infected family member needs to be isolated from the rest of the family. In essence it means that they have to stay in a different living area of the house and not share anything with the rest of the family. This may not always be possible, however, there are measures which can be implemented to ensure safety in shared spaces:
It is recommended that the patient should sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom, which needs to be cleaned daily with a bleach solution. Where the family cannot avoid sharing the bathroom, it needs to be cleaned with disinfectant containing bleach after each user.
It may be strenuous to not have contact with the infected family member for the period of quarantine or it may not be possible to have separate living spaces, in these instances living spaces need to be shared with the infected family member for limited periods at a time, with strict social distancing at a distance of 2 metres or more. Ideally it should be in a garden or in a ventilated room and with all family members wearing a mask.
Even when families are in the same room, they should not share food, or utensils with the patient. Cutlery and crockery must be washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher on a hot setting, ideally there should be dedicated utensils, towels or bedlinen used by the infected family member during the quarantine period. Surfaces touched by the ill or infected person needs to be cleaned and disinfected daily.
Laundry from the infected person must be handled carefully and washed in hot water. The person handling the laundry should wear gloves or thoroughly sanitise their hands after touching it. Hot water removes coronavirus from clothes, so clothes can be reintroduced into the family after washing.
This is a time for the family to be extremely vigilant with personal hygiene, regular washing and sanitising of hands and surfaces. As the family deals with and takes care of the infected person, it is important that everyone’s health and symptoms should be monitored.
Dealing with an ill person as well as implementing all of the health and safety measures may be strenuous on the family and the primary care giver, who may still have to fulfil other roles such as parenting and working. It is important for the primary caregiver to take care of themselves and get enough rest.
Regrettably there is still stigma attached to the corona virus and as a result many people are afraid to disclose that they or a family member are infected by the virus for fear of victimisation and of being ostracised. However, contracting the virus is nothing to be ashamed of and the rising rate of infections means that the virus is around us and there is no need to hide from it. To the contrary, talking about the virus and spreading information about it, raises awareness and goes a long way towards helping others avoid infection. It also creates an opportunity for others to provide you with the support needed.
As much as COVID-19 infection and mortality rates increase daily, it is not all gloom and doom as the rates of recovery are also on the rise. It is important for all of us to adopt practical measures to remain safe. Educate yourself as much as possible about the virus and measures to protect yourself and the rest of the family. Do not be too hard on yourself and seek help when it is needed. View the quarantine period as a project with a set timeline, which will come and go. Do not hesitate to contact your GP where it is required.
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