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Aug 20, 2020

Healthy Living: Home Care Tips

The recent spike in cases of COVID-19 detected in Belize means that hundreds of Belizeans who tested positive are now confined at home for self-isolation. Health officials should provide guidelines as to how to care for a COVID positive person in your home. For those who still have questions about at-home care, we have some answers in tonight’s Healthy Living.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting 

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic or mild. The current recommendation is for these persons – who don’t require hospital care – to recuperate at home in isolation. But, caring for a COVID-19 person in your home requires considerable effort to minimize the spread within the household. Dr. Laura Freisen of Belize Medical Associates Southside NHI clinic explains some of the details of providing safe home care.


Laura Friesen

Dr. Laura Friesen, General Practitioner, BMA Southside Clinic

“We have two components that we look at when we have patients that dont need hospital admission. One is how do they manage their own symptoms, and one is how to prevent people around you from getting sick.”


When it comes to isolation, there are four possible scenarios. Dr. Friesen explains that the ideal setting would be if the patient stays in a completely separate apartment or home alone. The second best is he or she uses one bedroom and bathroom. But Dr. Friesen acknowledges that this is not a possibility for many households.


Dr. Laura Friesen

“Scenario number three would be if you don’t have your own bathroom, but you can sleep in a separate room that is also a possibility that many of us might have. It is to move out everybody that sleeps in that room and have just that sick person stay in a certain room. They might still share a bathroom, but the bathroom should be sanitised after each time that the sick person uses it. Meaning the sink, the toilet and the door should be wiped off with bleach solution so we can get the bathroom safe for the rest of the household.  The last scenario is the least desirable, but we do have those situations where families do not have the resources to have a room viable just for the patient. So, the last and least desirable scenario would be where the patient would continue sleeping in the same room with other family members. Still, we need to move that patient to at least a separate bed and have them be sleeping at least six feet away from any other healthy family member.  Ventilation is very, very important you want a fan that is blowing air away from other people as in away from the healthy people and preferably towards a window so that you are not moving the virus directly towards the people that are healthy.  If you have a shower curtain or sheet whatever barrier you can put up if you are unable to separate the sleeping areas would already be helpful because it would prevent the virus from travelling as much.”


The person with COVID should use a mask and sanitise their hands every time they leave their isolation area to access other parts of the home. In these times, everyone in the house should maintain the recommended physical distance.


Dr. Laura Friesen

“The normal respiratory droplet can travel no more than six feet. Thats why we are telling people to keep a distance of six feet even within the home because that will prevent that droplet from travelling into that air space of the others and infecting them. The other way that there seems to be a risk for contagion is through respiratory fluids that have been on surfaces, for example, used tissues from a sick person or the utensils that the person has been using and lifting to their mouth and face those would be other areas that you would have respiratory droplets and body fluids.”


For this reason, separate food utensils should be designated for the person who is sick. And common areas should be disinfected regularly.


Dr. Laura Friesen

“All doorknobs, all light switches, all sinks, anything where people touch regularly should wipe at least on a daily basis with a bleach solution. We also need to think about the clothing of the infected patient. The clothing can be washed together with other peoples clothing. However, the person doing the laundry should be wearing a pair of gloves while they are moving the laundry from one place to the next.  Set a little table right by the door of the room where the sick person is. It can go right inside or right outside. That can be your sanitisation. You can put your hand sanitiser your box of gloves, that can be your transfer station where you set the beverage or food so that you need to have direct contact with the patient. So that reduce that direct face to face contact unless it is needed.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Your recommendations as to who should be the caretaker or how many people should be providing care?”


Dr. Laura Friesen

“So again, preferably I would like that think most people are testing positive will not get very ill. In that case, they wouldnt need to be a very hands-on caretaker. There would just be somebody to check up on you to make sure you get your food and groceries. That is what I hope for the majority of people and what we hope for at least 80% of our positives. However, if this person does get little sicker, We would advise that one person in the family bye designated as the caregiver to avoid the rapid spread between everybody and this one person should preferably not be a high-risk person meaning should not be pregnant, preferably not diabetic, preferably not obese, preferably not hypertensive, preferably not asthmatic, so it should be a healthy young person, as healthy and as young as that household has.”


These precautions are necessary for all COVID positive persons at home, whether with mild symptoms or without any symptoms. These actions can help to protect others in your home from contracting the virus. Dr. Friesen also recommends that the sick person eats healthy, stays hydrated, and gets enough rest to allow the body to recuperate.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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