As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, people exposed to the virus or sick patients have been asked to go into self-isolation.
But what exactly does that mean?
A former Chief Medical Officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DailyMail.com explains what self-isolation is and what to do while you are locked up at home.
IS SELF-INSULATION THE SAME AS IN QUARANTINE?
In one word: no. Those who undergo self-isolation do this voluntarily and have to meet at home.
While quarantines are usually voluntary, they can sometimes be mandatory, such as the federal quarantine for U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Quarantined people are not sick, but are separated from the general public to see if they get sick.
Both self-isolation and quarantine differ from isolation, which separates the sick from the general public until they are cured or treated.
WHO SHOULD SELF INSULATE?
“ People who have to isolate themselves aren’t sick, but they’ve had credible exposure, ” said Dr. Robert Amler, former chief physician of the CDC and Dean of New York Medical College.
“There is reason to believe they may have been exposed. And we wait for the incubation period, in this case about 14 days, to see if they get sick. ‘
This includes a few groups of people, such as anyone waiting for CDC test results or anyone who has had contact with someone waiting for test results.
Anyone who has traveled to another country where the outbreak is rampant, such as China, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
WHAT DO I DO IN SELF-INSULATION?
People who isolate themselves are expected to stay at home and not go to work or school or bring their children to school.
Dr. Amler says people should try to do as much of their normal activities as possible – such as working from home or schoolwork – without making physical contact with anyone else.
“That means staying in your room, trying to have your own bathroom if possible, and not sharing plates or cutlery with other members of the household,” he said.
Being isolated in itself doesn’t mean you can’t have contact with the outside world.
“You can use your TV, your stereo, your phone, FaceTime on social media,” said Dr. Amler.
“Everything you can’t get [possibly infected] droplets everywhere. ‘
CAN I GO OUT TO GET FOOD, TOILETRIES OR OTHER DELIVERIES?
Under no circumstances should self-insulated persons leave the building.
One option is to have family or friends deliver the supplies you need. Alternatively, you can use grocers or online retailers to deliver packages.
Dr Amler offers two suggestions: wear a mask when the person delivers items or wait for them to leave before you pick them up.
According to him, the latter is more ideal because ‘because the delivery person does not enter the airspace’.
WHAT DO I NEED WITH MY GARBAGE?
Dr. Amler says most people don’t produce large amounts of waste themselves, so if you can wait to get it out, that’s the best option.
“If it’s not harmful to keep it, that’s the most protective way,” he said. “Nothing’s going out of your room like that.”
If that is not possible, Dr. Amler to deposit on your doorstep until the 14-day isolation period is over.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I FEEL UNWELL IN SELF-INSULATION?
Most importantly, don’t visit a doctor’s office, hospital, or other health care center, or you risk infecting others.
Stay at home and call your healthcare provider immediately and ask them for advice on what to do.
“Alert the authorities so that you can be transferred to a hospital to be checked and tested,” said Dr. Amler.