Zimbabwe: Covid-19 – Safe home care
If you are taking care of yourself or a loved one at home, how can you keep everyone safe? Who should be cared for at home? How to prevent infection with COVID-19 from other family members? What red flags should you look for that tell you it’s time to contact the health care provider? WHO’s Dr April Baller explains in Science in 5.
Vismita Gupta-Smith: If you are infected with COVID-19 and have been asked to take care of yourself at home or if you are the caregiver of someone with COVID-19 and are caring for them at home, how would you keep everyone safe? Hello and welcome to Science in 5. I am Vismita Gupta-Smith. These are the conversations of the WHO in science. And Dr. April Baller is going to tell us today how to safely care for a COVID-19 patient at home. Welcome, April.
Dr. April Baller: Thanks, Vismita. Nice to be here.
Vismita Gupta-Smith: April, what are the scenarios we see where a person is asked to take care of themselves or take care of a COVID patient at home?
Dr. April Baller: So the first scenario is where the health care system is stretched. This happens when there is, for example, a sudden surge or surge in the number of cases in the community, as we are currently seeing in many countries, and the hospital bed capacity is almost full or is full. This means that there are hardly any more beds. In this case, what the doctors can do is see a patient and give them treatment and advice, then send them back for home care.
The second scenario, which is the ideal scenario, is when the patients test positive, however, they either have no symptoms or they have very mild symptoms and they have no underlying disease such as cardiovascular disease or lung disease. chronic and they’re not old. Thus, these people can be taken care of at home. However, they should first contact their healthcare provider for real-time advice.
Vismita Gupta-Smith: So in the event that you have someone with COVID at home, how do you keep them and yourself safe?
Dr. April Baller: The first and important point is that the person, the patient, should stay in a separate room. If this is not possible, they should have a designated part of the house and their movement around the house should be restricted. Also, there should be a yard, at least a yard, between them and any other person. Second, it is essential to have good ventilation in this patient’s room and in any shared spaces. So that means you really need to keep the air as fresh and clean as possible.
And it can be done just by opening the windows. Unfortunately, however, he obviously has to be sure to do this. Third, there should only be one person caring for this patient and that person should not have any underlying conditions. Fourth, whenever patients receive care, they should wear a medical mask, just like the caregiver. And as soon as the caregiver leaves the room, he must make sure to wash his hands. Also, patients should have their own dishes and cups, towels and bed linens, designated or personalized, if you want to call it that.
And these can be washed with soap and water at least once a day. It is also important to note that all surfaces frequently touched by the patient should be cleaned and disinfected daily and all waste generated by this patient should be securely packaged. And finally, unfortunately, no visitors should be allowed during the period when the patient is sick.
Vismita Gupta-Smith: April, tell us about any signs or red flags that should tell a COVID patient or their home caregiver that it’s time to call the doctor or go to the healthcare facility.
Dr. April Baller: When caring for patients at home, it’s important to monitor their condition regularly. Ideally, this should be at least once a day for any signs and symptoms, complications, or red flags, as you call them. And the important point here to note is that the flags may vary slightly depending on age. So, for adults, these include adults complaining of dizziness. They may be short of breath, have heavy breathing, complain of chest pain, look dehydrated.
For children, it can often be them who suddenly seem confused, who are not eating, who have blue lips or faces. And infants, or also called babies, an inability for them to breastfeed. So in all these cases urgent care should be seen. At home, some patients may be instructed to measure oxygen saturation with pulse oximetry. This is a medical device that monitors the level of oxygen in the blood.
It is a very useful device. However, it is important that the user has clear instructions on how to use it and also to know what an abnormal reading or a normal measurement is. And when that happens, most importantly, they need to urgently call their health care provider.
Vismita Gupta-Smith: Thanks, April. So it was Dr. April Baller who explained how to keep you and a COVID patient safe at home. If you find this information useful, please share it with people who may need it. Until next time, then. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay true to science – World Health Organization