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The Ministry of Health Ministry and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on April 29 issued revised home isolation guidelines. The revision comes amid the onset of the second COVID-19 wave in the country.
The home isolation guidelines are applicable to coronavirus infected patients who have been clinically assigned as 'asymptomatic' or 'mildly symptomatic' by a treating medical officer. They would be allowed to isolate at home only if their oxygen saturation at room air is above 94 percent.
"Such cases should have the requisite facility at their residence for self-isolation and for quarantining the family contacts," the Union health ministry stated.
A caregiver should be available to provide care on "24 x 7 basis", and a communication link between the caregiver and hospital is a prerequisite for the entire duration of home isolation, it added.
Elderly patients aged more than 60 years and those with co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease and cerebro-vascular disease shall only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer, the guidelines noted.
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Patients suffering from immune-compromised status (HIV, transplant recipients, cancer therapy, etc.) are not recommended for home isolation and shall only be allowed to do so after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer, it further said.
"The caregiver and all close contacts of such cases should take Hydroxychloroquine ProPhYlains as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer," the ministry said.
The guidelines also include specific instruction for the home isolating patients, asking them to stay in an identified room and maintain distance from all family members particularly the elderly and those suffering from co-morbid conditions.
"The patient should be kept in a well-ventilated room with cross ventilation and windows should be kept open to allow fresh air to come in," it added.
"Patient should at all times use triple-layer medical mask. Discard mask after 8 hours of use or earlier if they become wet or visibly soiled. In the event of caregiver entering the room, both caregiver and patient may consider using N95 mask," the guidelines added.
The patient must take rest and drink a lot of fluids to maintain adequate hydration, and also "follow respiratory etiquettes at all times", it said.
Self-monitoring of blood oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter is strongly advised, the ministry further added.
The patient under home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days have passed from the onset of symptoms (or from the date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and no fever for three days, the guidelines said. "There is no need for testing after the home isolation period is over," it noted.