As per the Health Ministry guidelines, people who come in contact with “suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19” should be in home quarantine. Meanwhile, some asymptomatic people are also being advised to quarantine themselves at home.
But in case there is a baby or a small child in the house, a person quarantined at home has to take extra precautions. “Small children are not always careful about sanitisation. They may end up touching objects around them so the risk is very high,” Dr Nikhil Modi, senior consultant, respiratory, critical care and sleep disorder, Institutes of Critical Care, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, told indianexpress.com.
Home quarantine precautions when there is a small child
Studies have shown that children are less likely to get infected with coronavirus although they can spread it as much as adults. “If there is a small child in the house then the family member who has tested COVID-19 positive or has come in contact with anyone infected should be in complete isolation in a room. You need to make sure that the child does not touch any item used by that particular adult. The person should not come anywhere close to the child. Thankfully we are only seeing mild cases of coronavirus in kids but you cannot take a risk,” Dr Modi said.
But isolation could be challenging in a small house. “Maintaining strict isolation may be difficult in a small house. In that case, either the infected person or the child should be taken away from the house,” the doctor added.
Along with this, one should adopt basic safety measures and practise social distancing. “The most important precaution is social distancing. Then you need to wear a face mask, covering both the nose and mouth properly. You need to wash your hands before you touch a baby or a small child,” Dr Kishore Kumar, founder, chairman and neonatologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, explained.
Precautions for an infected mother
Dr Kumar advised that if a mother is infected with COVID-19, she should wear a face mask and wash her hands thoroughly before touching her baby. “Only 13 out of 1000 mothers are known to have transferred the virus to their baby. These 13 cases were also because of various other factors like not wearing the face mask or not maintaining social distancing,” he said.
As for breastfeeding, the Women and Child Development Ministry reassured that mothers can continue breastfeeding directly even if they test positive for coronavirus. “A COVID-19 positive mother can breastfeed her baby. But she should wash her breasts and hands properly before breastfeeding. She should wear a mask while breastfeeding. The virus is not transmitted through breast milk but through breathing,” the neonatologist stated.
Precautions family members should take
As per the Health Ministry guidelines, family members of a person being quarantined at home should take the following precautions:
*Only an assigned family member should be tasked with taking care of the such person.
*Avoid shaking the soiled linen or direct contact with skin.
*Use disposable gloves when cleaning the surfaces or handling soiled linen.
*Wash hands after removing gloves.
*Visitors should not be allowed.
*In case the person being quarantined becomes symptomatic, all his close contacts will be home quarantined (for 14 days) and followed up for an additional 14 days or till the report of such a case turns out negative on lab testing.
Besides, frequently touched surfaces in the quarantined person’s room should be cleaned and disinfected daily with one per cent sodium hypochlorite solution while toilet surfaces should be cleaned daily with household bleach solution or phenolic disinfectants.