Being exposed to a COVID-19 patient or someone with symptoms of the disease can potentially affect your health and infect people around you. The possibility of fully vaccinated people to still spread the virus is still being studied by scientists. However, WHO recommends to continue practicing safety precautions. Therefore, it is necessary to go into self-quarantine when you suspect exposure to someone who might be infected with the Novel Coronavirus, to avoid the risk of spreading the infection.
In this article, we will provide self-quarantine guidelines, especially for people who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient.
What is Self-Quarantine?
One of the most important precautionary measures that the health authorities recommend, to avoid the spread of COVID-19, is self-quarantine or home-quarantine in case you get exposed to a COVID-19 patient. Self-quarantine or home-quarantine is basically cutting off direct contact or interaction with other individuals, including family members, and keeping yourself limited to one room for a time period of 10 days or until your COVID-19 test result is negative.
What Circumstances Count as Exposure to a COVID-19 Patient?
As per the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MNHSRC), a person is deemed to have come in contact with a COVID-19 patient if he/she had direct physical contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient including attending to them without using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or have shared a space with a patient for more than 15 minutes.
Guidelines for Self-quarantine During COVID 19
In case you have been exposed to a COVID patient and need to quarantine at home, following are the measures that you can take to ensure your well-being during the period as well as of people around you.
1. Make sure that your family, friends, or neighbors know about your condition
In case you live alone and must quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 patient, make sure that someone from your family, friends, or neighbors knows about your condition, especially someone who is in close vicinity and can provide support in case of medical emergency or run errands for you to get groceries, medicine, or other essentials.
2. Make sure that you are in touch with a doctor or a health-care provider
It is important to establish link with a health care provider, in case, you develop any symptoms and need guidance on the medication you should be taking or any other necessary treatment.
3. Restrict yourself to your room and use a separate washroom
If you are living with your family or sharing your house with someone else, make sure that you restrict yourself to your room and do not come in direct contact with your family. Also, ensure that you are using a separate washroom, and no one touches or uses your towel and dirty laundry without wearing a mask and gloves.
If you do not have a separate washroom, make sure that you sanitize the taps and doorknobs of the washroom. And keep your toiletries and other essentials separate. You can learn more about disinfection protocols from this Bolo article about keeping your home disinfected during COVID-19.
4. Eat inside your room and keep your utensils separate
The health authorities strongly recommend that during your quarantine period, you eat separately inside your room and do not share your plates, cups or glass with anyone. It is also recommended to wash your eating utensils separately with water and soap.
5. Do not cook food for anyone besides yourself
MNHSRC Pakistan strongly recommends against a suspected COVID patient or COVID patient cooking for others. If you are in quarantine, it is best to avoid cooking except for yourself. In case you are sharing the kitchen with someone else, it is best to sanitize the areas you have touched after usage.
6. Eat fresh and healthy food
It is always important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to ensure that your body is getting essential nutrients and minerals for healthy functioning and good immunity. But in case you have COVID-19 or are suspecting it, it becomes even more important to have good diet. Try to avoid eating junk food and food that is high in sugar because it can adversely affect your body’s response to COVID.
7. Dispose-off your garbage properly
To ensure that no one at your home or your garbage collector gets infected through you, dispose off your garbage by packing it properly in a plastic bag.
8. Get tested if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms
In case you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 i.e., a high temperature, a new, continuous cough a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, get yourself tested and inform the people you have been in close contact with in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms.
In case of symptoms, you can also call the helpline provided by the Government of Pakistan at 1166 to request a COVID-19 test.
You can get information about COVID-19 testing facilities in Pakistan here.
9. Monitor your body temperature and oxygen saturation level
If you test positive for COVID, it is highly important that you monitor your body temperature with a thermometer and your blood oxygen saturation levels with a pulse oximeter, a small device that clips on your finger and gives you readings in percentage. In case, if you have consistently high body temperature or the reading on your pulse oximeter falls below 95 percent, contact your doctor.
You can also tell that your oxygen saturation level is low if you go short of breath. In case you are short of breath, you can try a few breathing exercises recommended by NHS UK:
- Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you're gently blowing out a candle.
- Sit upright in a chair.
- Relax your shoulders, so you're not hunched.
- Lean forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or on something stable like a chair.
10. Take care of your mental health
Quarantine or self-isolation can affect your mental health in a negative manner; hence, it is very important to take measures for your mental well-being. You can take following few measures to ensure good mental health during your quarantine
- Keep in touch with your friends and family via phone so you do not feel alone
- Keep in touch with a person you can express your feelings and emotions to
- Take up activities that can keep you entertained like watching a TV, reading a book, or surfing the Internet. However, you should avoid negative news.
- Talk to your doctor and see if they recommend you any light physical activity that you can do inside your room
You can also read a detailed article from our website regarding taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reaching Out for Medical Assistance
In case the exercises are not helping, and your oxygen levels are consistently dropping, you should immediately report to your doctor and go to your nearest COVID-19 treatment facility. The list of designated COVID-19 hospitals and wards is given below:
You can also contact Government of Pakistan’s Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline at 1166 for further assistance.
Timeframe of COVID-19 Quarantine
The COVID-19 quarantine time varies for individuals who develop symptoms and those who do not. In Pakistan, as per the policy of MNHSRC, the recommended period for quarantine is ten-days starting from the day of your exposure. In case you test positive, your ten days count from the day you started showing symptoms. If you test negative, it is still recommended that you finish your ten days quarantine period because you can develop symptoms any time within the time frame.
Once your quarantine period ends, you can end your isolation and mingle with other people while following all the necessary precautionary measures.
For queries related to COVID-19, self-quarantine, COVID-19 vaccination, and other service options in Pakistan, you can send a private message to the Bolo team via the Bolo Facebook page. Our dedicated team of moderators answer queries from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.