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Drive Through Covid-19 Screening Station by Dubai Health Authority at Al Nasr club Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, you may have several questions related to home isolation, the precautions you need to follow and whether you need a negative test result before you can return to a normal life. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has issued detailed guidelines on the steps a person – and his or her family – needs to take if they do test positive and need to isolate at home.

Firstly, a ‘positive case’ is defined by DHA as a person with a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, irrespective of clinical symptoms. This means that even if you are asymptomatic, you would need to practice a 10-day quarantine, according to the revised quarantine guidelines by the authority. However, it is important to note that the result should be from an approved medical facility.

What are the conditions and requirements for home isolation?

DHA also specified what conditions need to be met for a person to be eligible for home isolation. These are:

• Availability of a separate room with a private bathroom.

• Patient’s health is stable.

• None of the household members are from the high-risk category.

• Availability of means of communication such as an active phone number.

• Patient and household members are capable of adhering to the precautions recommended as part of home isolation.

• Availability of a first-aid kit that includes a thermometer.

If you are unable to meet these requirements, you can request for institutional quarantine at a DHA-approved facility. However, the costs related to the stay and care would need to be borne by you.

What should the patient do while in home isolation?

If you are able to isolate at home, follow these steps:

• Isolate from other people in the house for the entire 10 days of isolation even if you are healthy or showing no symptoms.

• Download and register in the COVID19-DXB smart app and follow the required steps.

• Monitor your symptoms and measure your temperature regularly.

• The patient and the family should read all the guidelines provided.

• The patient should use disposable cutlery and plates when eating and immediately dispose of them.

• The patient should preferably do their own laundry. If not possible, the person should use separate laundry and bags in the isolation room and gather all contaminated items in a separate waste bag.

• Wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

• It is preferable to use an automatic bin that doesn’t require touching contaminated items.

• Ensure that household staff follow all precautionary measures when managing waste or laundry.

What is required from the family of the patient during home isolation?

• Household members should stay in a different room away from the patient.

• Monitor their symptoms, if any symptoms appear call the DHA toll-free number 800 342.

• A surgical mask should be used in the presence of other people or if the patient is visited by healthcare staff.

• Hands should be washed often and thoroughly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds especially before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, whenever you remove your gloves and face mask or if your hands are dirty. It’s preferable to dry your hands with a paper towel.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• The number of caregivers should be limited for patients who require assistance. Ideally, the person who is assigned should be in good health and should have no underlying chronic conditions.

What is required from the family of the patient during home isolation?

• If any household member was in contact with the confirmed case before the results were out, the household member should also quarantine for a period of 10 days.

• Correctly discard disposable surgical masks and disposable gloves after every use.

• Surfaces in shared areas such as door handles, taps and benches should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised. Ensure that shared spaces are well-ventilated.

• Wash laundry thoroughly and ensure that the clothes of the confirmed case are collected in a separate basket. It is important that the clothes are washed and hung for exposure to the sun separately from the rest of the household members’ clothes.

• A good practice is for meals to be provided to the patient by leaving them at the doorstep of the patient’s room using disposable plates and utensils, without any contact with the household members.

• All household members should stay home and they should not allow any visitors.

• Once the period of home isolation is over the whole house should be disinfected as well.

• If you do not wish to or cannot wash your clothes at home, you can request for laundry services as well. To get a list of laundry services, which provide services that have been approved by Dubai Municipality for health and safety compliance, visit this link.

When does the isolation period end?

A person who is infected with COVID-19 will remain in isolation (home or facility). The isolation period for a confirmed COVID-19 case is 10 days. The isolation ends:

1. After completing 10 days from the date of taking the PCR test.

2. When the symptoms, if any, subside.

3. The patient has no symptoms or fever by the 10th day, (without fever reducing medication) for a minimum of three consecutive days.

Are there home disinfection companies that I can call after completing the isolation period to disinfect the house?

For disinfection services, a company could be selected from the accredited list provided by Dubai Municipality here

Does the patient have to have a negative PCR test to end their isolation?

A negative PCR test is not required to end isolation, according to DHA. The criteria for ending isolation is completing 10 days of isolation with improved symptoms and no fever for at least three days with no fever reduction medications. However, you will receive an ‘End of quarantine’ certificate from DHA after your isolation is completed.

Can I practise my normal life after leaving the isolation with a positive examination result or will I be fined?

A positive test result after finishing the isolation period does not cause fines and the person can resume normal life and work normally. However, you must ensure to follow the precautionary measures announced by the concerned authorities, which include wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance of two metres to avoid fines.

How long does it take to recover?

The COVID-19 virus is a new strain of coronavirus and its nature may evolve. Scientific evidence has found that the recovery period depends on the person’s immunity and level of fitness. For mild and asymptotic cases, a 10-day isolation period is the maximum period.

For cases with symptoms, the recovery period depends on the severity of the observed symptoms and any consequential complications, of the disease during treatment.