If you have COVID-19 and you're caring for yourself at home or you're caring for a loved one with COVID-19 at home, you might have questions. How do you know when emergency care is needed? What can you do to prevent the spread of germs? How can you support a sick loved one and manage your stress? Follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.
- Only one person should provide care.
- If you need to be within 2 metres of the ill person, wear personal protective equipment:
- Wear disposable gloves when touching the ill person, their environment and soiled items or surfaces.
- Avoid re-using medical masks or gloves.
Keep Your Environment Clean
- Place used medical masks, gloves and other contaminated items in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
- Place possibly contaminated laundry, including non-medical cloth masks and facial coverings, into a container with a plastic liner and do not shake.
- Wash with regular laundry soap and hot water (60-90°C), and dry well.
- Clothing, linens and non-medical cloth masks and facial coverings belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
- At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
Monitor Yourself for Symptoms
- If you have always used the recommended precautions, then monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following your last close contact with the ill person.
Protecting others if you're ill
If you're ill with , you can help prevent the spread of infection.
- Stay home from work, school and public areas unless it's to get medical care.
- Avoid using public transportation.
- Stay isolated in one room, away from your family and other people, as much as possible. This includes eating in your room. Open windows to keep air circulating. Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Avoid shared space in your home as much as possible. When using shared spaces, limit your movements. Keep your kitchen and other shared spaces well ventilated. Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from your family members.
- Clean often-touched surfaces in your separate room and bathroom, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics and counters, every day.
- Avoid sharing personal household items, such as dishes, towels, bedding and electronics.
- Wear a face mask when near others. Change the face mask each day.
- If wearing a face mask isn't possible, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. Afterward, throw away the tissue or wash the handkerchief.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Emergency warning signs
If you or the person with COVID-19 experiences emergency warning signs, medical attention is needed immediately. Call 911 or your local emergency number if the sick person can't be woken up or you notice any emergency signs, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- New confusion
- Bluish lips or face
Coping with caregiving stress
As you take care of a loved one who is ill with COVID-19, you might feel stressed too. You might worry about your health and the health of the sick person. This can affect your ability to eat, sleep and concentrate, as well as worsen chronic health problems. It may also increase your use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
If you have a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, continue with your treatment. Contact your doctor or mental health professional if your condition worsens.
To care for yourself, follow these steps:
- Maintain a daily routine, including showering and getting dressed.
- Take breaks from COVID-19 news, including social media.
- Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid use of drugs and alcohol.
- Stretching, breathe deeply or meditate.
- Focus on enjoyable activities.
- Connect with others and share how you are feeling.
Caring for yourself can help you cope with stress. It will also help you be able to support your loved one's recovery.