You are doing everything right to avoid getting the coronavirus – you are avoiding handshakes, steering clear of large gatherings, and of course, washing your hands thoroughly.
And yet, you’re still worried. Maybe you walked next to someone who was sneezing and coughing. Or your spouse just returned from a business trip. Perhaps someone in your office building is considered as a Person Under Investigation (PUI).
Now, you can’t help but think: Do I have to self-quarantine?
It’s a critical question. People who have a compelling reason to believe that they may have contracted the coronavirus should isolate themselves for 14 days to see if they develop COVID-19 symptoms – fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.
What is Self-Quarantine?
People who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 or have a compelling reason to believe that they may have contracted the coronavirus should practice self-quarantine. Health experts recommend that self-quarantine lasts 14 days. Two weeks is enough time to know whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people.
You might be asked to self-quarantine if you have recently returned from traveling to a part of the country or the world where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. You will also be asked to self-quarantine if you have been exposed to an infected person.
How to Self-Quarantine
Health experts recommend self-quarantining for 14 days. Primarily, the goal of self-quarantine is to prevent potentially spreading the virus by separating yourself from other people long enough to determine whether or not you are infected and exhibiting symptoms.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, please take the following steps:
- Only leave your home if absolutely necessary.
Restrict your activities outside of your home – this includes going to work, school, public areas (i.e. malls, restaurants, etc.), or using public transportation. Only leave your home if absolutely necessary (i.e. if you need to see your doctor, buy medicine, shop for groceries, etc.).
- Wash your hands properly and frequently.
Practice proper hand hygiene – wash your hands properly and frequently. Proper handwashing can help prevent the spread of the virus. Make sure to wash your hands after cough, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Furthermore, avoid touching your face.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home every day.
According to a new study, the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on surfaces for several hours or even days. Because of this, it is highly important that you frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home every day. This includes doorknobs, phones, bathroom fixtures, remote controls, kitchen sink and countertops, refrigerator handles, and switches. Make sure to disinfect such surfaces at least once per day.
- Don’t share your stuff.
Avoid sharing your stuff with other people in your home. This includes towels (including hand towels in the bathroom and kitchen), bedding, dishes, drinking glasses, and utensils.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home, including pets.
If possible, stay in a different area of your home and use a separate bathroom. Also, while there is no evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus can be transmitted to pets, it is recommended that you limit contact with animals until more is known about the virus.
- Monitor your symptoms closely.
Take your temperature to check for a fever at least twice a day. Also, take note if you are beginning to cough or experience shortness of breath. You may or may not experience COVID-19 symptoms during your self-quarantine. If you do begin to exhibit symptoms, make sure to:
- Cover your sneezes and coughs and wash your hands immediately afterward
- Wear a mask when you are around people or using common spaces in your home
- Contact your health care provider or utilize telemedicine to seek medical guidance from home
If you do not have symptoms once your self-quarantine period has ended, follow your doctor’s instructions on how you can return to your normal routine.
Who Should Self-Quarantine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends self-quarantining if you have a medium or high risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.
You are at medium risk for exposure to the new coronavirus if you:
- Have traveled from a part of the country or the world where there is a widespread or ongoing community spread of the new coronavirus
- Have come into close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 and is symptomatic
- Live with or are caring for someone who has COVID-19 symptoms and you are consistently following the recommended precautionary steps to prevent virus transmission
You are at high risk of exposure to the new coronavirus if you:
- Have recently traveled from Wuhan, China
- Are aged 60 years old and above
- Have serious underlying medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease
- Live with or are caring for someone who has COVID-19 symptoms and you are not following the recommended precautionary steps to prevent virus transmission
If you are healthy, are not exhibiting any symptoms, and don’t fall into any of the risk categories above, you don’t necessarily have to self-quarantine. However, you should continue to wash your hands properly, practice social distancing, and monitor yourself for symptoms, like dry cough and fever.
What is Isolation?
Self-quarantine and isolation are often used interchangeably; however, they have differences. For one, precautions are much more rigid than those in self-quarantine.
For people who have been confirmed to have COVID-19, isolation is crucial. Isolation means keeping infected people away from those who are not infected. Isolation can take place at home or at a care facility or hospital. In health care settings, special protective equipment will be used to care for these patients.
Concerned You May Have COVID-19?
If you suspect that you are infected with COVID-19, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or have been exposed to someone who has been confirmed to have the virus, please contact the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 hotlines – 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555.
You can also proceed to the nearest hospital in your area. On your way to the hospital make sure to protect yourself and others by washing your hands and putting on a mask. Also, don’t go into the main hospital – proceed straight to the emergency room where most hospitals already have a triage area for possible COVID-19 cases.
Stay safe and healthy!