Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is NOT to induce any sort of panic but to help people understand how they can go into a period of self-isolation amidst the coronavirus outbreak, and if they do so, what they must ensure in order to carry it out successfully.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the outbreak of the coronavirus as a "global pandemic", and the alarming rate by which the cases of the COVID-19 infection is rising worldwide, many people around the world have now gone into self-isolation. The purpose of such isolation is to prevent the virus from spreading as well as to take necessary steps and medication during this period in order to recover from it.
SELF-ISOLATION OR SELF-QUARANTINE?
"Self-quarantine" is for those who might have been exposed to the virus, but are yet to show any sort of sign of infection. On the other hand, "self-isolation" is for those who might have been infected by the virus, and are needed to be isolated in order to prevent the possible spread of the virus.
In this article, we will be explicitly talking about self-isolation and how you can go into it if the need comes.
SHOULD YOU GO INTO SELF-ISOLATION?
People showing symptoms of coronavirus infection such as runny nose, sore throat, coughing, fever (100 °C or more), and breathing difficulty, or have recently come in contact with someone affected or showing those very symptoms, should consider going into self-isolation. These people are referred to as "suspected cases", and are only declared as COVID-19 patients once they are tested positive for the virus.
You can also consult with your doctor over the phone as to what you should do and how you can approach the situation. Currently, self-isolation is a practice that is being followed globally by people suspected of having the virus.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), in addition to discouraging people from travelling abroad, has requested all returnees from coronavirus-hit countries to self-quarantine for two weeks from the date of their arrival to prevent the spread of the virus in Bangladesh.
THIS IS HOW YOU SELF-ISOLATE
The first thing to ensure for someone going into self-isolation is the avoidance of all sorts of physical contact with others. This includes both direct physical contact, as well as contact through inanimate objects like utensils, stationary, and so on. Alert your family members and friends of the situation. You must also let your teachers or employer know of it. Academic institutions and workplaces are contact zones for individuals who come from different parts of the city and should take precautionary measures, too. Basically, tell anyone who has come in direct contact with you recently.
Once—and if—the symptoms are confirmed, you must first move away from all the other family members and isolate yourself in a room. The National Health Service (NHS) of UK suggests that you keep a minimum distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from the others. NHS also suggests that you wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use tissues or a dedicated towel to wipe your hands after cleaning and also during coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissues afterwards in a waste bin; wash the towel properly with soap and detergent. Sleep alone if you can. Also, you should use a separate bathroom if the option is available. Otherwise, ensure that the bathroom is regularly cleaned with disinfectants or other necessary solutions to restrict the spread of the virus.
You can ask your family members to leave your food outside the door. Once done, leave the utensils outside. These should then be handled and washed with warm water and soap/disinfectant, wearing rubber gloves. If you are living alone and need supplies, ask your near ones, or any shopkeeper to help you out.
Order food online or using apps if no other options are available. If you are to receive a delivery, ask the delivery guy to leave it at your door, and explain the situation to them. You should also make your payments through mobile banking services (like bKash) or your bank account, as you do not want the virus to spread through the bank notes you handle.
Avoid going outside at all costs. Even when inside the house, try not to come in direct contact with a common surface that others in the house might touch, for instance, the refrigerator. Ask your friends and relatives to avoid meeting you in person as they should not risk getting infected.
However, perhaps the most important thing you need to do is—and let us reiterate—DO NOT PANIC.
Of the 130,000+ cases globally, over 70,000 people have already recovered. Two of the three coronavirus infected patients in Bangladesh have also recovered, with one of them already sent home. Hence, although the virus is quick to spread, it can be contained if proper measures are taken.
Although you will be confined to your room or house during the isolation, you can always use the time to catch up on reading, watching movies and series, or some other task provided you feel well. Stay in touch with your family and friends through Facebook or any other online platform. Doing this will help you pass time during your isolation period, and keep you away from stress. Make sure you stay calm, collected, well updated with the news and regularly monitor your health.
Record your body temperature at regular intervals. You should also keep track of how frequently you are coughing or sneezing if you can. If you have the slightest hunch that your health is deteriorating, do not hesitate to call your doctor or the IEDCR. If your condition does not improve in about 14 days, you must report it immediately to the concerned doctor or authorities, and follow their directives.
Given how rapidly COVID-19 is spreading, and with innumerable sources of news and information, a certain level of doubt and public unrest is expected. The fact that different sporting and cultural events, conferences, and academic activities continue to be cancelled is also alarming.
In the end, what we need to understand is that steps are being taken so that the disease is contained—as the saying goes, "prevention is better than cure". Self-isolation is something you would not like to do, and that is understandable. However, for your own sake and for those around you, it is something which one must commit to, if needed.
Again, as mentioned, there is no need to panic. Stay updated with the government instructions, follow the directives by WHO, IEDCR and your doctors, and you will be just fine.
The IEDCR hotline numbers are provided below:
01401184551, 01401184554, 01401184555, 01401184556, 01401184559, 01401184560, 01401184563, 01401184568, 01927711784, 01927711785, 01937000011, 01937110011