With the surge of the third wave across the country, there are many people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Even if you are up-to-date with your vaccines, it is possible to get infected with the virus. If you have a fever, cough, scratchy throat, fatigue, headache and body aches, or if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you must schedule an RT-PCR test or make use of an at-home Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kit. If you test positive, then follow these simple guidelines.
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Isolation and Quarantine
After you receive your positive report, immediately contact your healthcare provider. If you are clinically assigned as asymptomatic and do not have any health risks for developing serious disease, then you need to self-isolate at home, and your family members have to go into quarantine to prevent the further spread of the virus. Elderly patients (aged more than 60 years), those with co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease, cerebrovascular disease, etc, and those who have an immunocompromised status (HIV, transplant recipients, cancer therapy etc.) are at high risk of getting severe disease and are not advised to isolate at home until they have undergone a thorough check-up.
According to the Union Health Ministry, if you have no to mild symptoms, your isolation should last 10 days from the day you received a positive report, or 7 days if you have no fever for 3 consecutive days. While self-isolating,
- Stay in one fixed room and try to use a separate bathroom. The room should be well-ventilated. Keep your windows open to allow fresh air inside.
- Wear triple-layer clinical masks, preferably N-95, at all times inside your home.
- One family member should be assigned as a caregiver, who can be available to you 24x7. They should also wear a triple-layer or N-95 mask when interacting with you.
- Maintain a 6-foot distance from other family members. Be careful to avoid close contact with those who are immunocompromised.
- Do not share personal items including utensils with other people in the household.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces frequently. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
What Should I Do If I Am Asymptomatic?
According to reports, 83 per cent of the people who tested positive on 11 January in Mumbai are asymptomatic, showing that a bulk of people who are getting infected by the Omicron variant are experiencing no symptoms. If you are asymptomatic,
- Maintain self-isolation and quarantine guidelines.
- Monitor yourself for symptoms for the duration of your isolation. Self-monitor your blood oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter, and also monitor your body temperature frequently. In case your condition deteriorates, immediately inform your healthcare provider.
What Should I do if I Have Mild to Moderate Symptoms?
Many of those who are getting tested for COVID-19 are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough, scratchy throat, fatigue and headache. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare states that “Clinically assigned mild cases are patients with upper respiratory tract symptoms with or without fever, without shortness of breath and having oxygen saturation at room air of more than 93%.” According to the MoHFW, if you are such a patient, then you should
- Inform and communicate with your doctor to plan the course of treatment. Every case is unique and your doctor is the best person to guide you.
- Continue medications for other comorbidities or illnesses after consulting with your doctor.
- Use warm water gargles or take steam inhalation thrice a day.
- Take Paracetamol 650 mg four times a day for fever. If fever fails to break, consult your doctor.
- Avoid self-administering any other medication or steroids to treat the disease.
- Seek immediate medical attention in case of falling oxygen saturation or shortness of breath.
- Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated, preferably warm liquids to ease sore throat.
- Self-monitor blood oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter.
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When Should I Seek Medical Attention?
If serious signs or symptoms develop, you must immediately seek medical attention. These symptoms include:
- Unresolved high-grade fever (more than 100°F for more than 3 days)
- Difficulty in breathing
- Dip in oxygen saturation (SpO2 ≤ 93% on room air at least 3 readings within 1 hour) or respiratory rate >24/ min
- Persistent pain/pressure in the chest
- Mental confusion or inability to arouse
- Severe fatigue and myalgia