Covid: Coping with a patient at home


Covid: How to cope with a patient at home?

A family member has been diagnosed with Covid. The person was told to self-isolate at home.

How do you prevent other family members from also becoming infected?

The patient

  • Wear your mask when you leave your room.
  • Wash your hands before and after you used the bathroom.
  • Shower or wash daily and put on clean clothes.
  • Do not touch other people.
  • Practice social distancing by staying in your room for the whole period of isolation.
  • Only leave your room to go to the bathroom.
  • Eat-in your room – if possible, not with other family members.
  • Wash or disinfect your hands before you eat.
  • Keep your trash and waste in your room in dedicated containers or bags.
  • Sleep/rest as much as you can.


  • The patient should preferably stay alone in a room away from other people in the household.
  • If it is not possible to isolate the patient in his/her own room, and the person has to share the space with others, practice social distancing as far as possible.
  • Limit time in the room with the person.
  • Sleep in separate beds.
  • Disinfect the room every day by wiping all surfaces.
  • Keep clutter in the room to a minimum.
  • Keep windows open for maximum airflow.
  • Do not leave cleaning products in the room if the room is occupied by a child as well.


  • If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom must be cleaned after each use by an ill person.
  • Keep the window open for maximum airflow.
  • Wait as long as possible after the ill person used the bathroom before you clean and disinfect it. The reason for this is for airborne viral particles to settle.
  • Wipe down all high touch surfaces.

Cleaning supplies

  • Make sure you have the following in your home:
    •  Paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, soap, a bucket, hand disinfectant that contains more than 70% alcohol, chlorine disinfectant or bleach (Jik), disposable gloves, black bags, spray bottles
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when mixing or diluting cleaning products.
  • Use room temperature water when diluting cleaning products.
  • If you dilute a cleaning product in a spray bottle, please label it  – write the content on it with a permanent marker.
  • Never mix chemical products.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation where you work.
  • Wear protective gear like eyewear and rubber gloves when you work with cleaning products.
  • Never eat or drink any of these products. They are poisonous.
  • Also, don’t bathe in it or wash a pet unless the manufacturer approves it for such use. It can seriously harm the skin.
  • Store all products out of the reach of children and pets.


A Covid patient often loses their sense of smell and taste and may have diminished appetites. They are also too tired to do much and might sleep a lot. They can also dehydrate because of diarrhoea and vomiting. If you are taking care of a Covid patient, make sure you prepare healthy meals. It is important to eat sufficient amounts of protein (chicken, meat, eggs) – it helps the body develop antibodies against viruses.

What are healthy options to feed a very sick patient?

      • Home-cooked soups – chicken soup, vegetable soup
      • Fresh Fruit  – apples, bananas, tangerines, oranges
      • Fresh Vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes
      • Egg dishes
      • Protein powder shakes
      • Rooibos tea/ water
      • Brown bread, oats – for fibre

What should you limit?

Too much sugar, fatty foods, salt and alcohol.

Where should they have their meals?

  • The covid patients should preferably eat in their room, away from other family members.
  • Wash their utensils separately in hot water and disinfect your hands afterwards.
  • Do not touch their utensils and then touch your face.

How to clean and disinfect

  • If a covid patient cannot isolate themselves in a separate room, you have to disinfect all surfaces daily.
  • Wear protective gear when you disinfect your home, for example, eyewear, gloves, apron and mask.
  • Ensure ample ventilation by opening windows and doors if possible.
  • Take extra precautions when cleaning rooms with asthma patients in the house. They can be very sensitive to cleaning products, and it can trigger an asthma attack.
  • 1/3 cup of bleach on 4.5 litres of water is sufficient to use as a disinfectant.
  • A bleach solution is effective for disinfection for up to 24 hours.
  • Keep a Covid patient’s trash in a separate bag and tie it before disposing of it.
  • Keep laundry in a separate dedicated bag.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of trash.

Linens, clothing and other items

  • Store all laundry of a Covid patient in a separate tied disposable bag till you have time to wash it.
  • Handle laundry with gloves and discard the gloves after use.
  • Wash your hands immediately after you discard the gloves.
  • Wash laundry on a hot cycle if possible with detergent.
  • Detergent kills the virus quickly.
  • The heat of a tumble dryer also kills the virus.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the risk of spreading the virus through the air.

Hand hygiene and other preventative measures

  • Avoid touching the patient as far as possible.
  • Don’t touch your face when working with a patient.
  • Wear protective gear when working with a patient – gloves, eyewear, apron, mask.
  • If your hands are visibly dirty, wash them for more than 20 seconds with soap and water. If not, use a hand sanitiser than contains about 60-70% alcohol.
  • Remember to keep alcohol-based sanitisers away from open flames or fires.
  • Store them out of reach of children or pets.


There is no treatment for Covid except to boost your immune system. Good products to take are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Echinaforce
  • For headaches: Disprin
  • For vomiting and diarrhoea: Ask your doctor or pharmacist what would be best to rehydrate.



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