The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has allowed COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms or those who are pre-symptomatic to self-isolate at home, if they have the requisite space and facilities.
Only those patients who are clinically assigned by the doctor as not having symptoms or having very mild symptoms can opt for home isolation. They need to be in regular touch with doctors and need to take immediate medical attention if they start developing symptoms such as “difficulty in breathing, persistent pain in the chest, mental confusion or inability to arouse, developing bluish discolorations of lips or face or as advised by the doctor.”
The prerequisites for home isolation include, a spacious house -- to quarantine the patient -- and space for separate quarantining of family members. There should be a 24x7 care giver at home, who is in direct contact with the hospital at all times. Both care giver and close contacts of the patient “should take hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.”
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis for healthcare workers in COVID care and close contacts of positive patients. Few anecdotal studies have shown reduction on viral loads with hydroxychloroquine, however clinical research has not provided any conclusive evidence on the benefits of the anti-malaria drug.
Downloading Arogya Setu App on mobile and keeping it active at all times is a mandatory requirement for home isolation. Patients need to monitor their health and provide regular information to the District Surveillance Officer for further follow-up by the surveillance teams.
Patients in home isolation can end the self-restrictions if symptoms are clinically resolved and the surveillance medical officer certifies the patient to be free of infection after laboratory testing.
Until now all suspected cases, those who are awaiting test results and confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease are currently being isolated and managed in a hospital setting with the intent to break the chain of transmission. However, with the number of confirmed cases rising, allowing home isolation -- wherever possible -- will reduce the load on the healthcare infrastructure.
In crowded hotspots like Mumbai, where home quarantining is not possible in congested slums, administrations are making large centers. Mumbai administration has started community care centers in schools, marriage halls, grounds using disposable beds. These centers are for asymptomatic, very mildly symptomatic young patients who only need quarantine and will be shifted to hospital beds when they show symptoms.
First Published: IST