The Delhi government Wednesday said COVID-19 patients with very mild or no symptoms can self-isolate at home, provided they have a room where they can stay away from their family members. This includes a separate room with a toilet, officials said.
“Not everyone needs to go to a hospital. This is as per the new protocol for those with very mild or no symptoms. They can isolate at home,” said Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain.
The Delhi government had started shifting patients, who fit in the above category, to COVID-19 care centres to reduce the burden on hospitals. Across the world, several countries are following a similar protocol.
The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which the Delhi government plans to follow, have a strict code for those who can isolate at home. Health officials in Delhi are also preparing guidelines for self-isolation. Jain held a meeting on the issue with Principal Secretary, Health; Secretary Health, DGHS; MD of Lok Nayak Hospital; and Special Secretary Health.
“The person should be clinically assigned as a very mild case/pre-symptomatic case by the treating medical officer. Such cases should have the requisite facility at their residence for self-isolation and for quarantining family contacts. A caregiver should be available to provide care on a 24×7 basis,” the ministry guidelines say.
At present, of the 3,439 people who have tested positive, 749 are admitted to nine COVID-19 designated hospitals. Of these, 52 are in the ICU and 9 on ventilators. Another 985 are in COVID-19 care centres and 137 in designated health centres.
All those choosing home isolation will also have to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app on their mobile phones, the Centre’s guidelines say.
Following the self isolation protocol in the city will not be possible for most people, said an official. “Only in affluent neighbourhoods do we have houses with enough space for a person to isolate themselves. Because family members have to avoid contact as much as they can, the patient should have a separate toilet near the room. But those who can ensure this are welcome to isolate at home,” said an official.
The ministry also has detailed guidelines for caregivers, who are required to have a communication link with a COVID-19 hospital to make sure it is informed of the progress and also in case the patient starts to develop more severe symptoms. Guidelines also require caregivers and their close contacts to take hydroxychloroquine as prophylactic.
If the patient develops difficulty in breathing, persistent pain/pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to wake up or develops bluish discolorations in the lips or face, they should get in touch with a doctor immediately and go to a hospital.
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