How to Safely Care for COVID-19 Patients at Home

10 August 2020

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Even though COVID-19 has been around for months, there are still many unknowns. Researchers do not yet have answers to many of our questions.

However, it is important to keep asking. And that is what people around the world are doing. Google has listed some of its most-searched questions about COVID-19.

Dr. Leana Wen is a professor of public health at George Washington University. Back in March she answered some of the most-Googled questions about COVID-19 in a YouTube video. One of those questions was "Can COVID-19 be cured?"

Dr. Wen explains that there is no cure or treatment for the virus. But, she adds, 80 percent of people who get COVID-19 do not need hospitalization. They can stay at home to recover.

When to seek emergency medical attention

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States warns to get emergency help immediately if the person shows any of these signs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • A blue color to the lips or face

The CDC notes that this list does not include all possible symptoms. Experts advise calling a medical professional if the person experiences other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

How to safely care for someone with Covid-19

If someone in your household gets infected with the virus, how can you stay safe? The following tips come from the CDC and the Mayo Clinic – a non-profit hospital and research center in the state of Minnesota.

Clean your hands often

Keep your hands clean and away from your face. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after being in close contact with or in the same room as the sick person.

If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover the whole surface of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Keep apart and separate.

Stay at least 2 meters away from the infected person. If possible, have the sick person eat and sleep in a separate room and use a separate bathroom.

Do not share items such as sheets, towels, electronics, and eating utensils - knives, forks and spoons. If you need to be in the same room with the person who is sick and he or she is not able to wear a face covering or mask, wear one yourself.

Do not touch your mask while you are using it. If it gets wet or dirty, replace it with a clean, dry mask. Throw away the used covering and wash your hands.

Make sure any shared areas have good air flow. Open a window to get air moving.

Do not accept visitors in your home. Only permit visitors when the sick person has completely recovered and has no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Be careful when washing clothes.

Do not shake dirty clothes.

When washing items touched by an infected person, use regular cleansers and set the washing machine to the warmest setting.

Wash your hands after putting clothes in the dryer. Dry clothes completely on the hot setting. When touching clothing worn by a sick person, wear disposable gloves and keep the items away from your body. Wash your hands after removing the gloves and throw them away.

Clean your home often.

Every day, clean surfaces that are often touched, including counters, tabletops and doorknobs. Avoid cleaning the sick person's separate room and bathroom.

Be careful with dishes

Wear disposable gloves when handling dishes, cups or other items used by the sick person. Wash dishes with soap and hot water or in the dishwasher. Clean your hands after taking off the gloves or handling used items.

FILE - A man wearing a protective face mask amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stands in front of a social poster in central Kyiv, Ukraine July 30, 2020. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File)
FILE - A man wearing a protective face mask amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stands in front of a social poster in central Kyiv, Ukraine July 30, 2020. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File)

Caregiver burnout

Experts at the Mayo Clinic remind all caregivers to take care of themselves, too. They warn that caregivers might feel stressed. They might worry about their health in addition to the health of the sick person. This stress and worry can affect a person's ability to eat, sleep and work. It can also worsen any existing health problems. It may also increase the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

The experts give these suggestions to caregivers.

  • Keep a daily routine. Get showered and dressed every day.
  • Eat healthy meals and drink a lot of water.
  • Exercise.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Do stretching, deep breathing, or meditation.
  • Do fun activities, such as reading or watching a movie.
  • Connect with others and share your feelings.
  • Monitor your own health and look for symptoms.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.

I'm Anna Matteo ...

And I'm Bryan Lynn.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.


Words in This Story

confusion n. a situation in which people are uncertain about what to do or are unable to understand something clearly

hand sanitizern. substance applied to the hands for the purpose of removing common disease-causing organisms

mask n. a covering used to protect your face or cover your mouth

disposableadj. designed to be used once or only a limited number of times and then thrown away

stressed adj. feeling very worried or anxious

routine n. a regular way of doing things in a particular order

meditation n. the act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating

monitor v. to watch, observe, listen to, or check (something) for a special purpose over a period of time