A new analysis that looked at 54 studies in more than 20 countries found that homes where someone had contracted the Covid-19 virus remained hotbeds of virus transmission, even if the overall community prevalence was low.
This is another study that reminds us of just how contagious the virus that causes Covid-19 is, and how difficult it is to prevent others from infecting if one lives in crowded, multi-generational housing, said CNN medical analyst Dr. Lina Wen.
The study found that the risks were higher if a family member showed symptoms of Covid-19 such as coughing, sneezing, body aches, chills and fever, than if the person showed little or no signs of the virus. The risks were also higher for adults than for adults and children.
A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that infection among family members occurred quickly. Researchers found that more than half (53%) of people who lived with someone fighting Covid-19 contracted the infection within a week. About 75% of these secondary infections occurred within five days of the patient’s first symptoms.
Less than half of the infected family members developed symptoms at the time the infection was first detected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team reported that “many people did not report any symptoms within 7 days of follow-up, confirming the possibility of transmission from secondary contacts without symptoms and the importance of quarantine.”
Staying isolated from other family members is difficult, especially if you are in a small space or have children in the house.
“If you have someone in the home who is older or immunocompromised, you may want to isolate them on one side of the house so that children and everyone around them are not regularly,” said pediatrician Dr. Tania Altman, editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Pediatrics book.
“If you have to care for a child, you may have to make the decision to isolate an adult with them,” she added. “This adult will take care of the child and the other adult will be responsible for the rest of the family,” she said.
Of course, all of this will be very difficult for a “who may be the only” parent, pediatrician Dr. Jenny Radsky, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a previous interview.
“Find out who your neighbors are, and their social network,” said Radesky, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. “Unfortunately, you need to keep the whole family in isolation,” she added. The patterns of Covid-19 spread indicate that groups of people who live close to each other are more likely to be infected than one another. If children are part of that family, they may have few but contagious symptoms.
Consider having everyone who lives in the house wear a mask indoors. Doing so was 79% effective in preventing the spread of the virus, according to a recent study, when family members began wearing masks before symptoms appeared in the first infected person.
If you live alone, your challenge is to monitor your symptoms and take care of yourself when you are unwell. Make sure you have a plan ready to get food and medicine to your home, and find someone who can be responsible for actually checking you out on a regular basis.
Everyone in the household should wear a face mask, unless you or a loved one is having “difficulty breathing” or incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without help, the CDC says.
Altman stressed the importance of isolation and protection measures. She explained: “You can make a healthy person leave food and drink for the patient at the door, and then go and wash his hands.” Wear gloves to pick up empty dishes, take them to the kitchen and wash them in hot, soapy water, or preferably with a dishwasher, and wash your hands again.
Don’t share drinking mugs, mugs, forks, or other eating utensils or plates, the CDC says. Never share towels or bedding with other people in your home. When washing clothes, do not shake the patient’s soiled clothes to “reduce the possibility of the virus spreading through the air.”
Caregivers should wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, and dispose of them after each use.
The Centers for Disease Control advises, “If reusable gloves are used, these gloves are intended to clean and disinfect surfaces for Covid-19 and should not be used for other household purposes.”
Wen advises that “if everyone should use the same bathroom, at least two hours should be left for the isolated person to use before someone else goes.”
Designate a lined wastebasket for any tissues, paper, or disposable products a sick person uses, the CDC says.
To be clear: After a positive diagnosis of Covid-19, everyone in the home needs to isolate themselves from the outside world as much as possible.
“I would recommend that families find friends who can quit groceries or essential medicines, not go to work, and not play with other children – even outside,” said Radsky.
If you don’t have friends who can bring groceries or essentials, see if local stores can.
If an asymptomatic family member thinks it is absolutely necessary to go out to the grocery store or pharmacy, or to check on a family member, be aware that you may be contagious and that anything you touch can transmit the virus – even without symptoms.
To reduce the transmission of the virus inside your home, try to keep air flowing in the rest of the house through open windows or doors, if the weather permits.
Have everyone wash their hands at every opportunity. Clean and disinfect all of those common surfaces – don’t forget refrigerator and microwave handles!
Get everyone away from stress as much as possible – which is definitely a difficult task – and focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, and good sleep.
While there is no indication that pets can be infected or cause Covid-19, the CDC suggests keeping pets away from sick people.
When does your home isolation end?
If the test result is positive but you’re not showing symptoms, you can stop isolation at home 10 days after the date you take the positive test, the CDC says.
For those with symptoms, the CDC says you can be around others when:
10 or more days have passed since symptoms first appeared
24 hours passed without a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications
Other Covid-19 symptoms are getting better
The Centers for Disease Control says: “A limited number of severely ill people may produce an efficient virus to replicate for more than 10 days. This may require an extension of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptoms appear.
The Centers for Disease Control notes that loss of taste and smell can last for weeks or even months after recovery, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay isolated. However, if you have a very weak immune system or are seriously ill with Covid-19 virus such as hospitalization and need for oxygen, the rules change.
These are scary times, but we hope these tips help ease your anxiety and prepare you and your family for the worst, with hope and strive for the best.