Recently the world has witnessed a surge in the new COVID cases; India is no exception. The omicron variant of COVID-19 is one of the causes of this increase in the number of cases, resulting in the third wave of COVID-19 in India. Although the severity of infection due to the omicron variant is mild, transmissibility is too high.
But, we cannot underestimate the importance of social distancing measures and immunity gained by vaccination. To stick to the protocols set by the government and regularities is a must for all of us. Our responsibility to curb the transmission even becomes more, if unfortunately, we contract the infection.
If you are experiencing mild or no symptoms post-infection, isolation and quarantine are a method of preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
Who are asymptomatic COVID-19 patients?
The patients tested COVID positive by the laboratory but did not experience any severe symptoms, and having an oxygen saturation of more than 93% at room air are asymptomatic. These patients may have mild upper respiratory tract symptoms with or without fever.
In the wake of an alarming rise in the number of cases, the union health ministry issued revised guidelines for home isolation for an asymptomatic or mild infection. Some of the important excerpts from the guidelines are:
- After reviewing the condition of the Covid positive patient by the treating medical officer, the patient may go for home isolation and self-quarantine. The patient and the caregiver will also get a COVID control room contact number to get information about subsequent testings, symptom management-related guidance, and emergency hospital bed requirements (if the symptoms get worsened).
- Mild/asymptomatic patients should have the essential facility and be well ventilated in their room for self-isolation and the quarantine of the immediately contacted family members.
- The government also recommends a presence of a fully vaccinated caretaker 24×7 to help the patient. The caretaker should always wear a mask, disposable gloves, and disposable gown and discard them immediately after exiting the patient’s room.
- The patient should avoid contact with the family members except for the caretaker.
- The time for home isolation of omicron infected patients has been decreased to seven days from testing positive if they show no signs of fever for three days in a row, instead of ten days before.
- Elderly patients above 60 years and patients with concomitant illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, or cerebrovascular diseases shall only be allowed home isolation after a thorough evaluation by the treating medical practitioner.
- It is also essential for the family members of the infected patient to strictly follow home quarantine rules.
- The patient should wear at least tripled layer medical or preferably an N-95 mask. The caregiver should regularly monitor the patient’s body temperature and blood oxygen level (using a pulse oximeter). The patient should discard the mask after eight hours of use. The mask can be discarded earlier also if it becomes wet or is visibly soiled. One should always discard the mask after cutting it into pieces and putting it in a paper bag for at least 72 hours.
- COVID patients should keep themselves hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluid. The patient should also include immunity booster food in their diet. The patient should also follow proper sanitization instructions like frequent hand wash and keeping a safe distance from other family members.
- There should be daily monitoring of patients in home isolation by the district administration.
- There is no need for re-testing after ten days if the patient is exhibiting no symptoms.
If the patient is experiencing worsening of symptoms or trouble breathing during home isolation, the caretaker should immediately contact the Covid contact room or go to the nearest hospital.
Dr. Srinath Kumar T S | Senior Consultant and HOD – Emergency Medicine | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore