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COVID-19 - Home Isolation and Quarantine

Published on May 18, 2020 and last reviewed on May 26, 2022   -  8 min read


To prevent the spread of COVID-19, suspected and infected patients are kept away from others. Read the article to know about quarantine and isolation.

COVID-19 - Home Isolation and Quarantine

The WHO (World Health Organization) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. All countriesaim at detecting the COVID-19 cases early, isolating such cases, managing their symptoms, tracing their contacts, to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is responsible for this pandemic. According to the WHO, the best way to contain this virus is by isolation of infected patients and quarantine of their contacts.

Over the last two years, it has been observed that the majority of COVID-19 cases are either asymptomatic or have extremely minor symptoms both internationally and in India. These cases normally improve with minimum intervention and can be handled at home with good medical supervision and monitoring.

Isolation and Quarantine:

Isolation and quarantine prevent the spread of the virus to the population from individuals who have or may have been infected by COVID-19.

  1. Isolation - It is when a person who has been tested positive for the new coronavirus is separated from people who are not infected.

  2. Quarantine - It is when a person, who is not sick yet but might have been exposed to the virus (contact), is separated to check if they become sick and produce symptoms.

When Is Home Isolation Needed?

According to WHO’s recommendations, all patients who have been tested positive for COVID-19 should be isolated and managed in a healthcare facility. If isolation in a healthcare facility is not possible for all cases, then the doctors are advised to hospitalize those who are most likely to have a bad prognosis. This includes patients with critical illness and those with comorbidities.

If the hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, then patients with mild illness and no risk factors can be isolated in temporary isolation facilities until they test negative for the virus. In some cases, for patients with no or mild illness and no risk factors, the doctor might suggest home isolation.

An individual who is confirmed to have been infected with the new coronavirus can be under home isolation if he or she:

If you have to travel from the hospital or airport to your house for isolation, avoid using public transport. Use ambulance services or a car to avoid exposure to others. In case you have been advised to stay in home isolation, do not leave your house to go to work, school, or public gatherings. Do not let anyone apart from your caregiver visit you at home.

When Is Home Quarantine Needed?

Home quarantine is necessary for all contacts of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. The following people should be home quarantined:

What Are the Precautions to Be Taken by the Caregiver During Home Isolation or Quarantine?

All caregivers of COVID-19 patients at home or in a quarantine facility should strictly adhere to the following advice. A caretaker should be accessible at any time each day, (preferably someone who has finished his COVID-19 immunization programme). For the course of home isolation, a communication link between the caregiver and a Medical Officer is essential.

It is important to limit the contact of the caregiver with the patient, as this virus spreads between people in close contact (about a meter) through respiratory droplets of the patient. To limit contact:


Personal Items:

Mask and Gloves:

Always wear a mask and gloves when you:

Once you finish caring for the patient, the masks and gloves should be thrown after cutting them up and placing them in a paper bag for at least 72 hours, and wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch your eyes, face, our mouth without washing your hands. Avoid touching and adjusting your masks.

Wash Your Hands:

The best way to prevent getting infected is to wash your hands. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 40 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The alcohol content in the sanitizer should be at least 60 %. Make sure you properly clean the back of your hands, wrist, and nails also.

Cleaning Patient’s Items:

The patient’s clothes, towels, bed linen, etc., should be washed using hot water and soap or detergent. This includes cloth masks or bandanas used by you. If you are washing it by hand, then do not forget to wear gloves and masks. You can also machine wash them using regular laundry soap at 60 to 90°C. Dry the clothes at least for 5 hours under the sun.

Keep the following things in mind:

Disinfect the House:

Disinfect high-contact surfaces, such as tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, and electronics daily. You can use soap and water to clean the dirty surface and then use a disinfectant. You can use 0.1 % sodium hypochlorite or an EPA-registered disinfectant. Mobile phones should be cleaned using alcohol-based (70 % alcohol) wipes or spray.

In case you share a bathroom with the patient, the toilet should be disinfected after every time he or she uses it.

Disposing Gloves and Masks:

Gloves, masks, and other disposable protective wear should be discarded in a closed bin. The waste should then be carefully disposed of as infectious waste.

Utility or reusable gloves and aprons should be cleaned with water and soap and then disinfected with 0.1 % sodium hypochlorite solution. It is best to use disposable gloves.

Check Yourself Regularly:

Take your temperature readings every day. As you come in close contact with the infected person on a regular basis, contact a doctor immediately if you develop fever, cough, breathing difficulty, or any other symptoms.

How to Care for a COVID-19 Patient?

Keeping the above precautionary measures in mind, care for the patient. You can:

How Can the Quarantined or Isolated Person Help?

If you are in home quarantine or isolation for suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should:

How Is Biomedical Waste Disposed at Home?

The used masks, tissue swabs contaminated with blood or body fluids, gloves, used syringes, medicines, etc., of COVID patients, should be considered biomedical wastes. To avoid the spread of COVID-19 from the household to the community, they should be handed to the waste collector separately in the yellow bag. They should be disposed of with appropriate deep burial pits as they can prevent access to dogs or rodents.

How to Treat Patients with Mild or Asymptomatic Disease in Home Isolation?

The patients with mild or asymptomatic disease in home isolation are treated by:

  1. Communicate with the medical officer if there is any deterioration.

  2. Continue taking the regular medicines you take for any other diseases or comorbidities.

  3. Utilize the teleconsultation platform that is made available by the district administration.

  4. Gargle with warm water or take steam inhalation thrice a day.

  5. Consult a doctor if the fever is not controlled with tablet Paracetamol 650 mg four times a day.

  6. Do not self-medicate by yourself.

  7. Steroids should not be self-administered and are not advised for mild cases.

When Should People Who Are Home Isolated or Quarantined Reach the Doctor?

Home isolated or quarantined people should reach the doctor if they develop serious signs or symptoms. They are:

  1. Unresolved high-grade fever for more than 3 days.

  2. Difficulty in breathing.

  3. Decrease in oxygen saturation (SpO2 ≤ 93%) or respiratory rate > 24/min.

  4. Persistent chest pain or pressure.

  5. Mental confusion.

  6. Severe fatigue and myalgia.

When and How to End Home Isolation or Quarantine?

These guidelines can vary depending on your country and government rules. Make sure you cover your nose and mouth, maintain social distancing, and wash your hands properly.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
26 May 2022  -  8 min read




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