While caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or is suspected to have it), it is important to protect yourself and others in your household. Following the important steps below will help limit the spread of the illness inside your home, as well as out in the community.
- Have only one healthy person provide care. If possible, this should be someone who is not at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, such as elderly persons, those with chronic medical conditions, like heart disease or diabetes or compromised immune systems.
- Do not share personal items with the ill person, (i.e. toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, cups, utensils or electronic devices.)
- If possible, use a separate bathroom from the ill person.
- Do not allow visitors in your home.
- Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from the ill person as much as possible. If you need to be closer, wear a face mask, disposable gloves and eye protection.
- Wear disposable gloves when touching the ill person, their bodily fluids, their environment and soiled items or surfaces.
- Always discard disposable face masks and gloves. Do not re-use them.
- Wash your hands after removing gloves and before taking off your face mask. With clean hands, remove your face mask and wash your hands again.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol.
- Dry your hands with disposable paper towels. If not available, use a linen towel and replace it when it becomes wet.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Discard used face masks, gloves and other contaminated items in a lined wastebasket. Dispose of them with other household waste. Wash your hands after handling waste.
- Do not share towels, bedding or clothes with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. Place contaminated laundry 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 and linens belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces twice a day and when visibly dirty. These could include toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes. Use regular household cleaners and disinfectants.
- Disinfect high-touch electronic devices (e.g., keyboards, touch screens) with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol prep wipes) twice a day.
- There are several considerations regarding vacuuming surfaces contaminated with COVID-19:
- If the surface is a solid surface, clean and disinfect with a regular household cleaner and disinfectant rather than vacuuming.
- For a carpeted or fabric surface, the surface should be dry before vacuuming and ideally the vacuum would be equipped with a HEPA filter. Waiting 48 to 72 hours after contamination before vacuuming could also be considered.
- For more details, visit the Environmental Cleaning page.
- Caring for someone with COVID-19 means you are considered a “close contact”. Even though you may feel well, it is important to stay home to avoid potentially spreading the illness to others in the community. Arrange to have groceries, medications or other essential items delivered to your home.
- If you are caring for someone with symptoms who is either suspected to have COVID-19, confirmed to have COVID-19 or returned from outside Northwestern Ontario in last 14 days you should self-isolate. Your close contacts should be self-monitoring for symptoms.
There are no specific treatments for COVID-19 and there is no vaccine available to protect against the virus. Most people with symptoms will recover on their own. Here are some suggestions to help deal with symptoms and feel more comfortable.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat a well-balanced diet as you are able.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest.
Tips to Help with Respiratory Symptoms
- Eat soft foods, warm liquids and cold treats.
- Gargle with salt water or use throat lozenges to soothe a sore throat.
- Humidify the air by using a humidifier, sitting in a steamy bathroom, or taking a shower.
- Keep the environment free from cigarette smoke or cleaning products that can irritate the throat.
- Apply a warm towel compress around the back of the neck.
Tips to Help with Pain and Fever
- Apply a cool, wet towel on the forehead.
- Take acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) or other medication recommended by your health care provider. Use the amount stated on the package, repeating every 4-6 hours when needed for no more than 48 hours.
- Aspirin® should NOT be given to children less than 18 years old.
- Dress in lightweight clothing to avoid causing a higher fever.
- Keep the room comfortable at around 20oC.
If symptoms get worse, immediately contact a health care provider or TBDHU and follow their instructions. If symptoms are worsening to a point where they cannot be managed at home, go to the nearest emergency department and/or call 911. The person you are caring for should wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth, and travel in a private vehicle if possible. If you need to call an ambulance, tell them that the person you care for has COVID-19 so they can take special precautions.
How to Care for a Person with COVID-19 at Home - Advice for Caregivers (Public Health Agency of Canada)
How to Care for a Child with COVID-19 at Home - Advice for Caregivers (Public Health Agency of Canada)