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Living with the COVID-19 Virus, Home Care SOPs You Must Know

by Amélie Poulain

The Omicron variant has jumped into the mainstream strain, causing severe transmission across Asia, including Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Those with mild symptoms will mainly care for themselves at home. When caring at home, you should always pay attention to your physical symptoms, nutritional intake, and proper exercise, which will help speed up the recovery of the body.

The Omicron variant has jumped into the mainstream strain, causing severe transmission across Asia. (Photo via unsplash.com)

Taipei, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – The number of global COVID-19 cases has exceeded the 500 million mark, and the Omicron variant virus has jumped into the mainstream virus strain. The common symptoms of the Omicron variant virus are cough, fever, throat discomfort, fatigue, soreness, and loss of smell. Although most of them are mild, they are highly contagious. According to a study by scientists from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, the initial infectivity of the Omicron variant is 4.2 times that of Delta, so the speed of transmission and the number of infected people are both faster and larger than the previous variants. Due to a large number of infected people, the total number of deaths has exceeded other COVID-19 variants, with a fatality rate of about 3.5‰

Since the beginning of this year, the Omicron virus storm has blown into all parts of Asia. Since the outbreak in Hong Kong, the number of confirmed cases in China and South Korea has also increased significantly. Even Taiwan, known as a model student of epidemic prevention, has a breakthrough in the number of locally confirmed cases in one day also exceeded 1,000 on April 15. According to the current statistics of confirmed cases in Taiwan, 99.78% of the infected people are asymptomatic or mild patients. Because of the majority of patients with mild symptoms and the rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases, to prevent the amount of medical treatment from breaking the bank, and to make medical resources more available and efficient, New Taipei City and Taipei City have taken the lead in implementing home care for mild illnesses. It is expected that within a week, the whole of Taiwan will launch a comprehensive home care program for mild illnesses. What are the qualifications for COVID-19 home care, what supplies need to be prepared, what precautions are there, and when you should seek medical attention immediately, are these important things you must know?

Pay attention to your physical symptoms when caring at home. (Photo via unsplash.com)

COVID-19 Mild Symptom Home Care Eligibility and Environmental Requirements

Mild COVID-19 is defined by the National Institutes of Health as an uncomplicated upper respiratory tract viral infection with no symptoms of shortness of breath or abnormal chest imaging but may have fever, cough, sore throat, muscle soreness, nausea, vomiting, loss of smell and other symptoms.

According to the “Guidelines for Home Care of Confirmed Persons” and “Principles of Diversion and Admission of Confirmed Persons” issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center of Taiwan, the groups that are suitable for home care are those who are diagnosed and who live with them under the age of 65, and those aged 65 to 69 who do not live alone. Those who are not pregnant do not need kidney dialysis and Infants under one year old must have no symptoms of fever or high fever. If they are chronically or immunocompromised they should have the ability to take care of themselves or have a person companion with them. The home environment needs to be able to isolate one person and one room. The principle of independent bathroom facilities is the principle. If the bathroom is shared, the diagnosed person must disinfect all touched surfaces with diluted bleach or alcohol after each use. The maximum number of undiagnosed people is 4 in the space, and the confirmed cases in the same household can be allowed. Keep windows open in public spaces as much as possible to ensure air circulation.

Those who have been admitted to a hospital or an enhanced centralized quarantine and epidemic prevention hotel for more than 3 days, who have been assessed by medical staff and have no need for continued care, and who meet the conditions of the home environment, can also return home to recuperate and change to home care for mild symptoms. Quarantines and co-residents need to undergo household quick screening to confirm their health status when they have symptoms or when the quarantine period expires.

People diagnosed with COVID-19 must wear a mask and prepare some necessary medicines at all times when caring at home. (Photo via unsplash.com)

Medicines and Supplies for COVID-19 Home Care

Before home isolation, it is usually recommended to prepare some standing medicines. Medicines containing acetaminophen can relieve mild cold symptoms such as headache and fever. Antihistamines can relieve symptoms of allergies, runny nose, and sneezing. You have to prepare some antiemetic or antidiarrheal gastrointestinal medicines. If you have children at home, you can prepare antipyretics for infants and young children in advance. The oximeter is also one of the necessary supplies recommended by doctors because it can monitor blood oxygen at any time. The normal blood oxygen concentration is about 95% to 100%. If the value is lower than 94, you must measure more than 4 times a day. If the blood oxygen value drops by more than 5% or the blood oxygen value is below 90%, it is recommended to seek medical examination immediately. If symptoms such as dyspnea or chest tightness occur, the number of measurements should also be increased. Pay attention to your physical condition at all times, use video chat to see a doctor when you are not feeling well, and seek medical attention as soon as possible if there are any signs of deterioration.

Studies have shown that the elderly over 65 years old have a higher proportion of severe cases. Therefore, those over 65 years old who are diagnosed with mild symptoms at home will take the initiative to provide oral drugs to prevent the evolution of moderate to severe cases. If other people diagnosed with the mild illness at home want to take the medicine “NRICM101” prescribed by a Chinese medicine practitioner for COVID-19, they can consult a Chinese medicine doctor or be matched by a Chinese medicine practitioner association, and ask relatives and friends to collect the medicine for them or deliver the medicine from a Chinese medicine clinic to your residence.

All kinds of cleaning products with bactericidal effects such as alcohol, bleach, and various cleaning agents should be prepared. Gloves are also a necessity, especially when family members live together, and you need to wear gloves at all times when moving in public areas. Those who share the bathroom must use bleach to clean the toilet, faucet, and bathroom equipment after each use so that the next person can use it with no worry.

People with mild symptoms after diagnosis can monitor their health by measuring blood oxygen levels. (Photo via pixabay.com)

Pay Attention to Medical Alerts

When you are at home with mild COVID-19 symptoms, you should always observe the state of yourself and your family members. If you have a fever, you can take the recommended antipyretic drugs, take more rest and drink more water. If you have any of the following warning signs of worsening condition, please call the Health Bureau, 119 and 1922 service lines immediately, or you can walk, drive by yourself, or be assisted by relatives and friends who live with you.

  1. The body temperature is lower than 38 degrees or there is no fever, but the heartbeat is significantly faster, more than 100 beats per minute.
  2. If you have symptoms of wheezing or dyspnea, you can use a home oximeter to measure it. If the breathing rate exceeds 30 times per minute or the blood oxygen content is less than or equal to 94, you need to seek medical attention.
  3. The skin, lips, or nail beds start to look bruised.
  4. Persistent chest pain and tightness.
  5. Confusion or seizures.
  6. Symptoms of eating difficulties include the inability to eat, drink, or take medicine.
  7. No urine or less urine output within 24 hours, and dehydration symptoms such as sunken orbits, dry mouth, and tongue appear at the same time.
  8. Blood pressure systolic blood pressure less than 90mmHg.

According to the recommendations of the Taiwan Pediatric Association and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of
Taiwan, after a child is diagnosed, if they have the following 5 major medical warning signs, please consult a doctor first or arrange to go out to see a doctor.

  1. Fever for more than 48 hours or fever higher than 39 degrees, with chills or cold sweats.
  2. Persistent poor mobility after the fever has gone down.
  3. Shortness of breath, wheezing, or chest pain that persists after the fever has subsided.
  4. Persistent vomiting, headache, or abdominal pain.
  5. No food or urine for more than 12 hours.

Diagnosed children with convulsions, confusion or changes in consciousness, dyspnea or chest cavity symptoms, acute chest tightness, severe abdominal pain, white or purplish skin, lips or nails, blood oxygen saturation below 94%, cold limbs, mottled skin, and cold sweating should seize the golden time for diagnosis and treatment, and seek medical treatment immediately.

Children under the age of 12 in Taiwan should pay special attention to their physical symptoms when they are diagnosed because they have not yet been vaccinated, and seek medical attention immediately if necessary. (Photo via pexels.com)

Eating Right Foods Increases Resilience

Dietitians suggest that mild COVID-19 diagnosed home care should be based on high calorie, high protein, and adequate water as the basic principles. Because the appetite may be affected during infection, you can take a meal every 2 to 3 hours, and take nutrients in small and frequent meals. Nutritional supplements, such as vitamin B complex, vitamin C, or high-protein drinks, can be used in a timely manner to quickly replenish the nutrients, protein, and calories needed by the body and accelerate recovery. Dietitians also suggest that you can check your body weight to confirm the state of your body’s absorption of nutrients and water. At the same time, you can help restore your health by taking more rest, supplementing sleep, and moderate exercise.

  • High-calorie diet: When the body is infected by the virus, the stress will increase, so the daily calorie intake can be increased by 200 to 250 kcal to combat the calorie loss caused by stress. Choose high-calorie foods like avocados, nuts, or good fats to help boost your body’s energy.
  • High-protein diet: During infection, the protein in the muscles is depleted, and the body becomes weak and difficult to recover. Eat more high-quality proteins such as milk, eggs, meat, beans, etc., or make high-protein drinks with milk, soy milk, yogurt, bananas, and nuts, which can also replenish nutrients in time and speed up the recovery of the body.
  • Maintain body hydration: Symptoms such as sweating, fever, diarrhea, cough, etc. will cause the body to lose water, so drinking a small amount of water frequently can prevent the body from dehydration, thick phlegm, and electrolyte imbalance. To increase the amount of water you drink, you can add fruits to boiled water to increase the aroma and avoid olfactory fatigue when you are infected and do not want to drink water. You can also supplement electrolyte drinks.
  • Choose the Mediterranean diet: People diagnosed with mild disease can adopt a multi-natural Mediterranean diet to supplement the nutrients needed by the body and prevent the occurrence of moderate and severe diseases. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of healthy plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and beans, along with white meat, seafood, fish, and plenty of good oils to supplement fat, protein, and calories. Just in line with the nutrients, the body needs when the COVID-19 virus is infected, it also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, reducing the body’s inflammatory response.

The European Food Safety Authority recommends that vitamin A, C, D, B6, B12, folic acid, and zinc, selenium, iron, and copper in minerals can be supplemented to help maintain the healthy function of the immune system, so mild diagnosed can prepare these foods at home. Eat more foods like chicken, beef tendon, sweet potatoes, kiwi, green vegetables, and oysters.

Develop Good Habits to Help Restore Health

In addition to dietary care at home, appropriate aerobic exercise is recommended to increase muscle endurance, maintain metabolism and normal body weight, strengthen cardiopulmonary function, reduce body inflammation and respiratory tract infections, and also prevent cardiopulmonary and other organ failure and the risk of severe disease. Increased blood sugar will also make your inflammation more serious, lead to worsening of respiratory tract infection symptoms and organ failure, and increase the chance of transitioning to moderate to severe disease. Therefore, you should also pay attention to controlling blood sugar at home. When you are taking care of your mild symptoms at home, you cannot go out. You could place exposed to the sun, such as windows or balconies, because sunlight can promote the natural synthesis of vitamin D, allowing dendritic cells, B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, macrophages, etc. in the immune system to function normally, Inhibit the body’s inflammatory response. If you can’t get enough sunlight during your stay at home, you can eat some vitamin D.

Of course, the most important thing is to stay at home obediently during the undiagnosed isolation period or the mild home care period, and do a good job of cleaning and disinfecting the environment. Those who live with you do wear masks, be alert and take precautions that can reduce the chance of being infected yourself or infecting others.

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