Self-isolation: For the greater good

With misinformation, confusion and Covid-induced anxiety spreading like the virus itself, Gardian believe that in addition to their range of innovative digital health and preventative products, it’s important to provide clear, concise information for people to better care for themselves and their communities.

So, when your Covid-19 test comes up positive, and you have to self-isolate, just what does that entail?

Self-isolation is about protecting others and slowing the spread of the disease so it is very important that anyone who has the virus, or might have been exposed to it, limits the number of people they come into contact with for at least seven days.

If you need to self-isolate, or you are looking after someone that needs to isolate, then it is important that you follow the advice from health authorities or local government to help keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe.

In essence, if you are isolating that means no work, school, shopping, visiting public places, or catching public transport. You may only leave home to seek medical care or in an emergency, and even then, you should be aware of social distancing and wearing a mask.

Self-isolation may seem challenging at first, but hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have successfully done it already.

Maintaining good positive mental health is one of the keys to staying emotionally strong during social isolation. Remind yourself that this period of self-isolation is temporary thinking of the benefits of self-isolation to the wider society, including slowing the spread of the virus and protecting those most vulnerable in your community.

So, first things first: let everyone at home and work know you are self-isolating. If you are the carer of someone that has the virus, maintain as much distance between you as possible and increase all hygiene and infection control measures.

People in isolation should stay in a specific “sick room” or dedicated area where they may sleep, eat, and where possible, use a separate bathroom. Have meals alone in the room where you are self-isolating, and if you must eat in a shared space, eat by yourself. Do not share household items including dishes, cups and utensils. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and hot water.

Take steps to improve ventilation at home, opening windows to increase airflow. If you cannot create an isolation space, and must be in a room with others, then everyone should wear a well-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth and goes under the chin.

If you need to share a bathroom, put down the toilet lid before you flush. Clean handles and faucets after each use and turn on the fan or open the window. Avoid sharing personal items like toothbrushes, towels and bedding.

It goes without saying that good hygiene is a significant factor. Everyone should wash their hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before entering an area where other people may go, before touching things used by other people, after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, before putting on, and after removing face masks and before eating or drinking.

Regularly clean all surfaces you touch as much as possible (such as tabletops, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures) by using a diluted bleach solution or Bioarmor wipes – an innovative product from Gardian that effectively provides surface protection from Covid-19 for up to three months. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, faucets, phones, computers and remote controls.

Take extra care to remain separate from any members of your household who are elderly, immunocompromised or have medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney problems.

Cover coughs and sneezes and monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Positive social connections are essential for our mental health and can help us cope in times of stress, so it is important that we maintain our social networks using available methods of communication. This can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your experience, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.

It is also beneficial to plan out your days to restore a sense of purpose, structure and normality to your daily life. Schedule tasks such as cooking and laundry, as well as activities you enjoy to help you stick to your routine. Structuring activities around mealtimes and bedtime can also help you keep to your schedule while ensuring you eat regularly and get enough sleep.

If you are able, you may even try working from home – just remember to ensure that you have all the rest your body needs to recover.

Everyone who has presumed or confirmed COVID-19 should stay home and isolate from other people for at least seven full days regardless of their vaccination status (day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date of the day of the positive viral test for asymptomatic persons). They should then wear a mask when around others at home and in public for an additional seven days.

If an individual has access to a rapid antigen test, the best approach would be to use it towards the end of the seven-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation).

If the test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10.

Try not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms and avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings for at least 14 days.

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