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Home quarantine guidelines for persons under monitoring or positive for COVID-19

By Angela Casco

Washing Hands

With high hopes, we all wish for the best case scenario during these virus-ridden times–for us and our family members to be safe from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

Worse can come to worst, though, as this virus can affect people in all walks of life. 

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines now at 187, the Department of Health (DOH) is recommending home quarantine to prevent congestion in health facilities. 

People who should undergo a monitored home quarantine are those who have a history of travel to other areas of China and/or history of exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the past 14 days, regardless of nationality, race, and age, as well as those who are showing symptoms of lower respiratory illness like fever. 

Going on a home quarantine means a person is not allowed to leave their room or house until a local health official has certified the completion of the required quarantine procedures. For other occupants of the house, usually family members, it also involves mindful and cautious participation and cooperation. 

Below are temporary guidelines from DOH secretary Francisco Duque issued last February. 

Place of quarantine

  • PUM should coordinate with the Local Government Epidemiologic Surveillance Unit, who will standardize logistical, administrative, and clinical parameters for transfer or consultation. 

  • PUM should be in a well-ventilated room with a toilet and bathroom. All activities should be done within the room. 

  • If sharing spaces can’t be helped, make sure that these are well-ventilated. 

  • Sleep in a separate bed and always maintain a distance of at least a meter from the PUM.

  • A person in good health can be the caretaker of the PUM.

Proper hygiene 

  • The PUM should wear a surgical mask with a snug fit. It should cover the nose, mouth, and chin whenever another person is in the same room. Those interacting with the PUM are not required to use masks. 

  • If alone, the PUM are not required to wear a mask

  • Touching the mask should be avoided. When wet or dirty, it should be disposed of and changed immediately. It should not be washed or reused. 

  • Masks can be used for a maximum of eight hours. 

  • After removing the mask, the person should wash hands using water and soap, or rub hands with 70% alcohol. 

  • Surfaces touched by PUMs such as tables, doorknobs, bed frames, among other furniture, as well as bathrooms and toilets should be cleaned and disinfected frequently with a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach to 99 parts water).

  • When cleaning or handling surfaces, people should wear disposable gloves and are required to perform hand hygiene before and after cleaning.

  • Clothes, bedclothes, and towels should be washed at 60-90 degrees Celsius, then sun-dry.

Food handling

  • Assigned caretaker should serve meal trays only up to the PUM room’s door.

  • Post-meal, the plates should be picked up at the room’s door again. The caretaker should wear disposable gloves and must wash their hands to avoid contamination.

  • Utensils and dishes used by PUM can be reused only after thorough cleaning with soap or detergent.

  • Other occupants of the house should not share utensils, dishes, and drinks with PUM.

Reminders for house occupants living with PUM on home quarantine

  • All PUMs and household members should perform hand hygiene following contact with PUM origin contact with their immediate environment.

  • Perform hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water. If hands are not visibly soiled, 70% alcohol or any alcohol-based hand rub can be used.

  • When using soap and water, disposable paper towels to dry hands is desirable. If not available, use dedicated cloth towels and replace them when they become wet.

  • Hand hygiene should also be performed before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet, and whenever hands look dirty.

  • Address safety concerns (e.g. accidental ingestion by children and fire hazards) on the use of alcohol-based hand rubs.

  • Respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette should be practiced by all at all times.

  • Respiratory hygiene refers to covering the mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing using surgical masks, tissues, flexed elbow, sleeves of clothes, or inside the neckline of shirts, followed by hand hygiene.

  • Avoid direct contact with body fluids, particularly oral or respiratory secretions, and feces. Use disposable gloves to provide oral or respiratory care and when handling feces, urine and waste. Wash hands before putting on and after removing gloves.

  • Avoid other types of possible exposure to PUM or contaminated items in their immediate environment.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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