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How to manage Covid-19 symptoms at home

Thursday July 02 2020
Virus

James Khakula is pictured on Kanduyi-Bungoma-Mumias road educating members of the public on the coronavirus, June 20, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SARAH NANJALA

With Kenya’s Covid-19 cases quickly approaching the 7,000 mark, home-based care for patients with mild or no symptoms appears to be the ideal move to decongest overwhelmed quarantine facilities.

As of July 1, Kenya had recorded a total 6,673 cases of the virus in 41 counties, 4,435 being the active cases.

Given that the majority of patients have mild symptoms, the likelihood of treatment at home is high.

So far, more than 600 patients have been sent for home-based care under the supervision of officials from the Ministry of Health.

How you qualify for home-based care

The Ministry of Health in June released a home-based care guideline with the criteria for selecting those suitable for it.

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Patients must be stable enough to receive care at home, meaning they should have very mild symptoms if any. Symptoms such as fever and a cough should be within a range that does not need hospital care.

In addition, the  doctors in question must be confident that the patients’ health will not deteriorate under home-based care. As such, patients with underlying conditions and the elderly are unlikely suitable for home-based care.

The guidelines also require that the patient’s home be conducive for treatment. A caregiver must be available and there must be access to food. In addition, no vulnerable members of the family such as the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions should be in the house.

Understanding Covid-19 symptoms

To better utilise home-based care, it is important that both the patient and the caregiver are well acquainted with the classic symptoms of Covid-19.

The most common symptoms are a fever, a sore throat and a cough. Others are muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, loss of the sense of smell and shortness of breath.

In understanding these symptoms, the patient or caregiver will be able to assess if the condition is getting better or worse.

Some patients may have the potential to quickly deteriorate hence the need for regular monitoring of these symptoms.. In the event of a decline in the recovery process, contact the doctor provided by the Ministry of Health or hospital.

Treatment of the symptoms

Patients on home-based care may show mild symptoms or no symptoms at all but this does not mean that their health will not deteriorate. As Covid-19 has no cure, the treatment plan entails managing the symptoms until the body fights off the disease on its own.

  • Drink plenty of fluids

Drinking fluids such as water, juices and soup will help prevent dehydration.

  • Get plenty of rest.

It is important for the patient to minimise activities while on home-based care. This will help the body fight off the disease and recover. Avoid doing a lot of chores and exercise or making unnecessary movements in the house.

If possible, stay in bed or on the couch all day and under the blankets. The patient should only leave the house when declared Covid-19 free or when being taken to hospital in case of an emergency.

  • Monitor the symptoms several times a day

The patient or caregiver should undergo regular temperature checks to rule out occurrence or worsening of fevers. 

Check for any muscle aches, headaches, nausea, a cough and for any developing symptoms or worsening of existing ones.

 For symptoms such as fever and a headache, take over-the-counter medicine such as Paracetamol, which can be effective in reducing fevers and headaches.

  • Be on the lookout for any difficulties in breathing

In the worst case scenario, a Covid-19 patient may develop breathing problems and may need a ventilator.

If this occurs, a patient will need to go back to the hospital for emergency care.

  • Stay in touch with the doctor

It is important for a patient to keep tabs with the designated healthcare worker who will help in assessing the effectiveness of the home-based care.

In the event of worsening symptoms, patients can call 719 or sent a short message to *719#

When you are safe

Patients on home-based care are required to fill out a daily monitoring form starting from the day of the last potential exposure. The patients enter the daily temperature and indicate the symptoms they are suffering.

According to the ministry’s guidelines, asymptomatic patients can end their home-based isolation and care after at least 14 days since the date of the first Covid-19 test provided that no symptoms have developed.

Symptomatic patients may end their home-based care if they have not had a fever for at least 72 hours (three full days) despite not using any medication and if other symptoms are subsiding.

These patients should wait at least 14 days after appearance of their first symptoms.

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