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Thursday, June 04, 2020

Always in touch, how Delhi took lead in home isolation

Delhi has seen 11,659 Covid cases so far, of which 5,898 are active. While only 1,802 are admitted in hospitals, 2,739 have been advised home isolation. Another 630 are in Covid care centres.

Written by Mallica Joshi , Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Published: May 22, 2020 2:06:31 am
The Delhi government is using services of a call centre to make calls to those under home isolation, and a team is sent to assess if the house is fit for isolation. (Representational Image)

A call each day to ask about symptoms, reminders to check body temperature regularly, detailed instructions on isolation, and government monitoring to ensure guidelines are followed — this is what the option for isolating at home means for Covid-19 patients, who are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

Sidhartha Agarwal, a 22-year-old MBA student, tested positive for Covid-19 on May 4 and was placed in home isolation. The Central Delhi resident has no idea how he got the disease. “I had a slight fever and got tested. I got my reports on May 4 and the district administration contacted me a few days later. By then, I had already isolated myself in my room. The district health officer asked me about symptoms; since I only had a slight fever, I was asked to isolate at home,” he said.

Delhi has seen 11,659 Covid cases so far, of which 5,898 are active. While only 1,802 are admitted in hospitals, 2,739 have been advised home isolation. Another 630 are in Covid care centres.

For those under home quarantine, daily monitoring is key.

Agarwal’s sister also tested positive and is in isolation in a different room. Their mother has not contracted the infection and is their designated caregiver.

“District administration officers ask about my symptoms every day. I had a fever for a couple of days but nothing more than that. I was asked if there was a separate room in my house, with an attached toilet, where I could isolate myself. I am lucky that I had those facilities and was allowed to stay at home. After a couple of days, my sister also tested positive and she is also under home isolation. We get calls every day, asking us about our health. We have been assured that if we develop moderate or severe symptoms, we will be taken to the hospital,” he said.

A poster, which declares that a patient is in isolation, has been pasted on the door of the house. As per guidelines issued by the state and centre, patients are allowed to self isolate only if they have a separate room with an attached toilet. Utensils and clothes of patients have to be washed separately, and numbers of officers have to be given to the patient and the caregiver to reach out in case they need anything. No family member is allowed to go outside the house.

A Delhi government spokesperson said checks and monitoring are rigorous.

A 33-year-old nursing officer, posted at a Covid-19 ward of a government hospital who tested positive May 11, has received calls from an ICMR official, two dispensaries, Health Ministry helpline 1075, a control room set up by Delhi government in Dwarka Sector 10, and the civic body.

“I am under home-isolation as I am asymptomatic. I finished my Covid-19 ward duty on May 3, and returned home to my family of 10, including my 85-year-old grandmother and two nieces aged 5 and 8 years. I have been in isolation since,” said the Bijwasan resident, over the phone.

When she got her test results, she visited the government hospital and met the CMO and was advised home isolation. “In the form, I filled in my 29-year-old sister’s name as my primary caregiver. I have an attached bathroom with my room, and my sister brings in everything for me, including meals,” she said.

On May 11, she got a call from a 1075 helpline official, who inquired about how she is managing to isolate at home. “Then someone from a dispensary in Dwarka called too, then another dispensary also called. I get a call daily about my health update, and finally I told them that if I feel sick I will let them know. An ASHA worker also called. Once, an official also came over to check my temperature,” she said.

After a Covid-19 sticker was posted outside her house, the woman said her house and the area around it was sanitised: “I feel good there is a mechanism in place and I am being looked after. It’s a huge relief mentally.”

The Delhi government is using services of a call centre to make calls to those under home isolation, and a team is sent to assess if the house is fit for isolation.

“We are not relying only on calls made by the call centre but also on our own officers since there aren’t so many cases of home isolation right now. We had developed an app to track if patients are home. We also ask them to send us photos to ascertain they are home,” said South Delhi District Magistrate B M Mishra.

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