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Posted March 23, 2020 by Nancy Reynolds RN System Dir, Infection Prevention, Infection Control
Handwashing and social distancing help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but certain situations may require more. If you have been in an office or gathering with someone who developed a confirmed case of COVID-19, you may be concerned that you have become infected as well whether you are exhibiting symptoms or not.
Should you quarantine yourself? If so, how and for how long? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend self-quarantine only if you have a medium to high risk of exposure.
Medium risk of exposure:
1. You have returned from a country outside China’s Hubei Province or Iran that has ongoing community spread of the virus (such as Italy and Spain).
2) You have had close contact with someone who was symptomatic with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (such as sitting two seats away on an airplane).
3) You live with, care for or are close to someone who has symptomatic COVID-19 and you have taken steps to prevent transmission.
High risk of exposure:
1. You have recently visited China’s Hubei Province.
2. You live with, care for or are close to someone who has symptomatic COVID-19 and you have NOT taken steps to prevent transmission.
The recommended length of quarantine is 14 days. This allows enough time to determine whether or not you have COVID-19 and preventing you from unknowingly spreading it to others.
• Do not leave your house unless you need to visit the doctor. Only do so if you have called ahead to plan your appointment. Do not go to work, school or public spaces. Do not use public transportation.
• Separate yourself from others in the home. This means using a separate room and bathroom and not sharing towels, bedding or dishes.
• Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Try not to touch your face.
• Because the virus can live for hours or days on household surfaces, disinfect bathroom fixtures, counters, door knobs, phones and keyboards at least once a day.
What to do if you develop symptoms
Take your temperature twice a day to check for fever and watch for a cough or shortness of breath. If you develop these symptoms, wear a mask in your home’s common spaces, cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands immediately after coughing or sneezing.
Getting medical help
If you experience COVID-19 symptoms during self-quarantine and need to see a doctor, let them know in advance that you may have the virus so they can protect other patients and themselves.