COVID-19 Self-Quarantine: Know Who Needs to Do it, and How

The number of nCoV (meaning novel coronavirus) cases in the Philippines keeps rising since President Duterte put the country under a state of public health emergency. The last update in the news is that there are 49 incidents, with the death toll lingering at two. Given these, the national government has ordered class suspensions and travel bans, while some private entities have declared work-from-home arrangements in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus

Self-quarantine is quickly becoming the norm these days. Top public officials themselves volunteer to it. 

In the Senate, Nancy Binay and Sherwin Gatchalian declared such today, March 12. Among Cabinet members, there’s Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Bases Conversion and Development Authority President Vince Dizon, and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade leading the list. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte likewise are undergoing self-quarantine.

But what exactly is this kind of self-isolation? If you’ve traveled overseas lately, especially in South Korea and Japan, here are the things you need to do as you go into a self-quarantine:

Limit Contact with People

Stay at your home. The Department of Health (DOH) urges postponing going to work, classes, or social gatherings for at least two weeks after you arrive in the country. If you can remain in your own room, that would be better. This would help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to people living in your residence. 

The people you live with at home don’t necessarily have to be in quarantine, as long as they didn’t travel overseas or exhibit nCoV symptoms. They should, however, make sure that they maintain distance from you. It’s best if they can just drop off essentials, such as food, at your room’s doorstep. They shouldn’t share household items too, including eating utensils, glasses, towels, and beddings, among many others. If you really can’t do away with going to shared spaces at home, make sure to wear a mask before doing so. 

Monitor Your Health

The 2019-nCoV symptoms range from mild to severe, which usually manifests two to 14 days after exposure. This includes fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people may develop pneumonia. The first local case of nCov in the Philippines, the patient who frequented the prayer hall in Barangay Greenhills, was diagnosed with such respiratory problem. If you start to feel unwell, seek medical attention immediately. Be prepared to talk about your travel history when meeting your doctor.

As you check your health, take note of the differences between COVID-19 (new name of nCoV) and common illnesses. Dry coughs are common among coronavirus cases, but only occur sometimes in allergies. In COVID, fever manifests almost all the time, but in common colds, it’s rare. Meanwhile, shortness of breath in coronavirus cases is severe. In common colds, it’s not a symptom, and only occur sometimes in allergies.

Maintain Good Hygiene

As always, wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Ideally, you want to take your time thoroughly cleaning your hands within the recommended 20-second duration. If you can’t access the bathroom just yet, use alcohol-based hand rubs after coughing or sneezing. Used tissues should be disposed of properly. Wrap them in another clean tissue before throwing them into your own trash bin.

Avoid touching your face. Virus easily gets into the body through the mouth, nose, and eyes. If your hands, which often get into the dirtiest surfaces, come into contact with these face areas, you’re more likely to get sick. Of course, avoiding face touching isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do, since we do it instinctively. This is another reason wearing a face mask is recommended, to form a barrier between your hand and your face. 

Clean Your Surroundings

It’s not just your body that needs to be clean. Your space should be disinfected, too. Wipe surfaces you share with others, including doorknobs, shower handles, tables, and telephones. Use diluted bleach solutions or chemicals that have at least 70 percent alcohol. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning these spaces. Dispose the material properly. 

When doing your laundry, it’s best to use gloves as well. Otherwise, wash your hands thoroughly after. Be careful not to shake dirty laundry as well, as this may cause potential viruses to be swept up into the air.

By the looks of it, nCoV in the Philippines isn’t going away soon. The virus breakout may continue to spread — yet it’s important not to panic. Rather, do your part in keeping your health in check. If you’ve traveled overseas recently but don’t exactly manifest symptoms, submit to self-quarantine.

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