In order to limit the contact between people as much as possible and therefore the spread of the coronavirus, several restrictive measures have been taken by the Government. The requirement is to stay at home and not go out except for shopping, going to work, or to the doctor.

However, some people are required to be isolated at home for 14 days, with monitoring at home or in a dedicated facility in case of inadequate housing. We discuss this with Dr Michele Lagioia, Medical Director of Humanitas.

Isolation at home, both compulsory and voluntary, is ordered by the local health authority and is communicated to the person concerned who signs for examination and to the general practitioner/family paediatrician.

Who is required to stay in isolation?

Close contacts of a positive person:

  • Asymptomatic contacts, which are not tested.
  • Paucisymptomatic contacts (i.e. those with mild symptoms) that have been tested/are tested with a positive result (they, therefore, become a case).
  • Paucysymptomatic contacts that have been tested with a negative result: isolation up to 14 days after the last contact with the positive person.

Cured patients who are still positive:

  • Patients discharged from the hospital who are clinically healed, still positive for the test.

Isolation: preventive measures

In case of isolation here some behaviors to follow:

  • The person subject to home isolation must remain in a dedicated room that must be ventilated frequently by opening the windows; in rooms equipped with air conditioning systems, the percentage of recycled air must be reduced and the percentage of air taken from outside must be increased. It is also advisable that the person in isolation uses a dedicated bathroom (if possible), sleeps alone and limits movement in other areas of the house where there are other people.
  • In the presence of other people, a distance of at least one metre must be maintained. Direct contact with people in isolation at home (including handshakes, kisses and hugs) must be avoided.
  • If the patient is symptomatic, he/she must not receive visitors.
  • If the patient has symptoms of respiratory tract infection, when moving from the room where quarantine is taking place the person should use a surgical mask as frequently as possible and implement respiratory hygiene measures. Cover nose and mouth using tissues when sneezing or coughing, coughing into the elbow; The tissues should be disposed of in a closed dustbin and hands should be washed or rubbed with hand sanitizer immediately afterwards.

The isolated person should monitor his/her health condition:

  • Detect and record daily body temperature (twice a day and as needed) and any respiratory symptoms such as a cough, nasal secretions, headache, sore throat, and report them to the doctor.
  • Tell your doctor/paediatrician if you experience any new symptoms or significant changes in your existing symptoms.
  • If possible, call 112 (UE citizens) and tell your doctor/paediatrician if you experience breathing difficulties.

Assistance during isolation at home

Monitoring the health condition of people in isolation requires a strong link between Health Protection Agencies and general practitioners/family paediatricians. These agencies inform and explain to people in isolation and their families the measures to be taken during quarantine. They guarantee the receipt of reports on the onset or worsening of symptoms; they take care of the activation of the emergency system and ensure the management of any absence from work.

People who assist and care for patients in isolation must wear surgical masks (the latter must not be touched during use and must be changed if wet or damaged).

Caregivers providing direct patient care (e.g. a physical examination) should wear a disposable gown, face mask, eye protection, and gloves. After removing the protective clothing, they should perform a thorough hand wash with a hydroalcoholic solution or soap and water several times a day.

We should remember that masks and gloves cannot be reused.

Waste generated by the patient or caregiver must be disposed of in a closed plastic bag, temporarily stored in a closed container and then disposed of in accordance with the household waste regulations.

The surfaces of rooms used by the patient, including furnishings, must first be cleaned and sanitized with cleaning products and then disinfected (with amuchina 0.5% or alcohol) frequently (at least once a day). Cleaners must wear a disposable gown or dedicated apron and disposable gloves. If household gloves are used, they must be disinfected after use. Patient’s clothes should be handled with gloves and machine washed at 60-90 °C using common detergents.