What to do if someone at home gets fever

Naomi and Doug Hassebroek help their son Felix wash his hands during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of, New York, US, on 11 April 2020Reuters

With the steady increase in the number of coronavirus patients in the country, it is important to be extra cautious. One of the biggest concerns that looms large is what to do if anyone at home gets fever, or a cough or cold.

Firstly, it is imperative at first to keep the person who is unwell away from others, whether he or she has been tested for coronavirus or not. But how to do that? Here are some rules:

1. The ailing person must be kept in a separate room, preferably with an attached bathroom. The room must be kept closed at all times. When food or anything else is required, these must be placed outside of the door and the patient will take these in.

2. There are times when it is not possible to have a separate room if many people live in one or two rooms. In such cases, everyone must maintain at least a 3 ft or 1 metre distance from the person who is unwell. The person tending to the patient must not remain next to him or her for 15 minutes at a stretch.

3. Clothes and other things used by the patient must be kept separately. The patient must wash these himself or herself with detergent for at least 30 minutes. It would be best if gloves were used while washing.

4. The patients and everyone in the house must use masks.

5. If there is no separate toilet, the patients must use sanitisers to clean the toilet after use. The cover of the commode must be shut before flushing and the exhaust fan turned on. Others should use the toilet at least 30 minutes after it has been used by the patient.

6. The patient certainly must cover his or her face while coughing or sneezing and place the used tissues in a polythene bag and then dispose of these in a covered bin. The plastic bag must be placed outside the door and when others dispose of it, they must use gloves and afterwards wash their hands thoroughly.

7. Before and after tending to the sick person, the caregiver must wash his or her hands thoroughly. The care must be provided from as far away as possible.

If there are not enough rooms in the house or if there are many members in the family or if there is anyone vulnerable in the family, then the patient can be kept at a government-selected isolated centre. If the patient is at home, a physician can be consulted over phone and steps taken accordingly.

* Rashedul Hasan is an assistant professor of the medicine department at Green Life Medical College.