All you need to know about home quarantine
Your questions about home quarantine answered
⚫ Who should quarantine themselves at home now in Bengal?
All those who have reached Bengal, from within India or abroad, in the past two weeks, a health department guideline says. All means all, regardless of whether they came in contact with any foreign traveller, whether they arrived by plane, train or bus or whether they show any Covid-19 symptoms.
Today is March 26. Those who entered Bengal after March 11 midnight must quarantine themselves at home for at least 14 days. The incubation period between infection and symptoms appearing can range from two days to 14 days, according to Roger Highfield, science director at the Science Museum Group.
A person going for home quarantine is expected to fill in a form issued by the local administration that mentions the date of start and the date of end of the quarantine and also the date of his or her arrival at home. The form also mentions that disobedience of the law could attract penal action.
Over 21,000 persons in Bengal were in home quarantine as of March 24 night.
⚫ But when I came out of the airport on March 20, no one told me about this? What should I do now?
According to the home-quarantine guideline, a person arriving in the country must be in home quarantine for at least 14 days from the day of arrival in India. Also, inform the health department of your state by calling the helpline or Covid-19 control room that you have arrived recently and are in home quarantine. It would be a responsible thing to do because then the department would be aware of your presence and call you to enquire about your health.
⚫ Isn’t everybody under lockdown for 21 days? So, aren’t we all in home quarantine?
No. Lockdown and home quarantine are not the same. Lockdown means you cannot step out unless you want to buy essentials or there is a medical emergency or you are part of an activity that has been listed as an essential service.
Home quarantine means you are isolating yourself in your home from others. You cannot step out at all. In fact, if your house has family members who are not covered by the quarantine requirement, you are advised to stay inside a room earmarked for you and observe social distancing even from other family members.
⚫ You said home quarantine should be for “at least 14 days”? So, it can be more than two weeks?
Yes. A Bengal government official said the first 14 days were the phase of active quarantine, during which a government representative would call the quarantined person every day to know whether he or she has developed any Covid-19 symptom.
During the next two weeks, the person would be under passive quarantine, during which he or she has to report to the government helpline if any symptom develops.
If a person being quarantined becomes symptomatic, all his contacts will be home-quarantined (for 14 days) and followed up for an additional 14 days or till samples test negative for the coronavirus.
⚫ If my neighbour has returned from abroad on March 22 but he is not observing home quarantine, what should I do?
The first option is try to talk to the neighbour on the phone gently and explain to him or her the rules. If you find it awkward, request a relative of the neighbour or an elder in the housing complex or neighbourhood to persuade the person to go into quarantine.
Remember, police are under tremendous pressure to carry out innumerable tasks. Try not to disturb them as far as possible.
If gentle persuasion does not work, you can try the following helpline numbers:
• 1800313444222, 033-23412600 (Bengal’s number)
•+91-11-23978046 (the Centre’s number)
•100 (police’s distress call number)
⚫ Can my quarantined neighbour make a quick trip to the grocery next door?
Not at all. Your quarantined neighbour is not supposed to step out of the room where he is isolated. Stepping out will mean exposing others to the risk of contracting the virus.
⚫ If my neighbour cannot step out to buy essentials, how will he or she survive, especially if all members of his nuclear family have just returned from outside the state?
The family should seek help from neighbours about their daily needs and request them to get their supplies.
They can place a basket outside their doorsteps where neighbours can keep the supplies without touching the basket. The person bringing the supplies must wear a mask and gloves. The payment for the supplies should be transferred online.
⚫ If my quarantined neighbour steps out in violation of the rules, what should I do?
Any violation of quarantine rules can be reported either to the state health department, the local police station or by dialling 100. The call is expected to land at the police headquarters of the city or district where you are living.
⚫ You said if the home-quarantined person shows symptoms, the contacts should go into quarantine. Who is a contact?
The guideline mentions that a contact is “a healthy person” who has been “in such association with an infected person or a contaminated environment” that the person has been exposed and is “therefore at a higher risk of developing disease”.
It elaborates that a contact is one who stayed in the same household as the person who tested positive for Covid-19. The contact could also be a person “having had direct physical contact with a Covid-19 case” or a person with contact with the “infectious secretions” of a Covid-19 positive person without recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) or with a possible breach of PPE.
Also, any person who was in a closed environment or had face-to-face contact within one metre with the person who tested positive is a contact.
Rahul Jain, an internal medicine specialist, said a contact could be anyone who was “exposed to a person who tested positive for 15 to 20 minutes within a confined environment”. Jain added this was the reason drivers who drove the cars carrying a positive person are being quarantined.
⚫ What are the rules people in home quarantine should follow?
• Stay in airy and properly illuminated room
• Use separate toilet
• If the room has to be shared, always maintain a minimum gap of one metre from another person
• Keep away from the elderly, the sick and pregnant women
• Do not step out of the room
•l Do not attend any social gathering
• Wash hands with soap frequently
• Do not share utensils with other family members
• Cover your face with mask 24 hours. Change mask every six to eight hours
• Burn or bury used masks after disinfecting them with bleach solution (5%) or sodium hypochlorite solution (1%).
• Call the health department helpline if there is fever or respiratory problem. Helpline numbers are 03323412600, 1800313444222. You may also call Covid-19 control room at 03323573636/1083/1085
• Only one person should be in touch with the patient
• The caregiver must wear mask and gloves while cleaning the room
• The bed and the pillow of the quarantine person should not be brushed
• Caregiver should wash hands with soap after cleaning the room
• Do not meet relatives or friends
• Wipe door handles and knobs with bleaching solution every day
• Cooperate and be honest with the health official when he or she calls you for feedback.