If you're recovering from the coronavirus in your home, you must meet 3 criteria before you end self-isolation
- As the coronavirus continues to spread in the US, many people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or exposed to those with confirmed cases are in self-isolation.
- Here are the CDC criteria you need to meet in order to leave home isolation.
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If you've come down with a case of COVID-19 that doesn't require hospitalization - or you suspect that you have - you're likely recovering in home isolation.But the course of recovery can vary, as can the duration of time you must to stay isolated. Even people with mild cases can be infectious for eight days after they first start experiencing symptoms (and likely before they have symptoms, too), research suggests. So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established criteria for people to use when deciding when to stop isolating.
If you have gotten or will receive a diagnostic test, you need to test negative twice, 24 hours apart, before leaving isolation. Those tests must be done after you no longer have a fever (without fever-reducing medicine) and after other symptoms have improved.Once you have met these criteria, you can leave your home for essential outings, in accordance with your city, county, and state rules. You should still minimize contact with others, though. The CDC also recommends disinfecting all surfaces and objects that a sick person has touched, and washing the clothes the individual has worn.
Who should try to recover from the coronavirus at home
If you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms, the CDC recommends home isolation for 14 days to make sure that you don't have the disease and spread it to others. Even if you don't experience symptoms, or you might carry the disease asymptomatically.For those who do develop symptoms, the CDC suggests healthcare providers tell people to recover at home if:
- The person is in "stable" enough condition to receive care at home.
- Appropriate caregivers are available to help at home.
- The patient has a separate bedroom in which to rest without sharing immediate space with others.
- There is access to food and other necessities.
- The patient and other household members have access to personal protective equipment (at a minimum, gloves and face mask) and can take precautions recommended as part of home care or isolation, such as hand washing and cleaning.
- Other household members won't face increased risk of complications from COVID-19 (such as people older than 65 and those who are immunocompromised or have preexisting conditions).
Even people with mild cases are contagious for days
Scientists still aren't sure exactly when a person with the virus stops being contagious to others, but a team of German researchers found last month that coronavirus patients "shed" high amounts of virus early on in their infection. (The research is not peer-reviewed yet, however.) In mild cases, the amount of the virus being shed decreased significantly after day five. Patients with mild cases were not infectious eight days after they first started experiencing symptoms. The serious cases were not infectious after day 10 or 11.About 80% of all coronavirus cases are mild, some research suggests - a broad category that means patients don't require hospitalization - though that number likely undercounts especially mild and asymptomatic cases. Mild cases usually include a fever and respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath and dry cough. Some cases include sore throat, headache, and body aches or joint pain. Others have gastrointestinal issues.
Many people who get the coronavirus experience symptoms in waves - patients can feel better in the middle of the illness, then feel worse again.
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