Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home – Advice for caregivers

If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.

Limit contact

  • Only one healthy person should provide care.
  • Do not share personal items with the ill person, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
  • Use a separate bathroom from the ill person if possible.
    • If not possible, the ill person should put the toilet lid down before flushing.

Protect yourself

  • If possible, people who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should not care for someone with COVID-19.
    • These people include elderly persons, those with chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart disease, diabetes) or compromised immune systems.
  • If you need to be within 2 metres of the ill person, wear a face mask, disposable gloves and eye protection.
  • Wear disposable gloves when touching the ill person, their environment and soiled items or surfaces.
  • Do not re-use face masks or gloves.
  • Clean your hands often for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with the ill person and after removing gloves, face masks and eye protection.
  • Dry your hands with disposable paper towels.
    • If not available, use a reusable towel and replace it when it becomes wet.
  • You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Keep your environment clean

  • Place used face masks, gloves and other contaminated items in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
  • Place possibly contaminated laundry into a container with a plastic liner and do not shake.
    • Wash with regular laundry soap and hot water (60-90°C), and dry well.
    • Clothing and linens belonging to the ill person can be washed with other laundry.
  • At least once daily clean and disinfect surfaces that people touch often, such as toilets, laundry containers, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
  • Use only approved hard-surface disinfectants that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is an 8-digit number given by Health Canada that confirms the disinfectant product is approved and safe for use in Canada.
  • High-touch electronic devices (e.g., keyboards, touch screens) may be disinfected with 70% alcohol (e.g., alcohol prep wipes) at least daily.
  • If approved hard surface disinfectants are not available, a diluted bleach solution can be prepared by following the instructions on the label, or in a ratio of:
    • 5 millilitres (mL) of (5%) bleach per 250 mL of water
      OR
    • 20 mL of (5%) bleach per litre of water

Monitor yourself for symptoms

  • If you have always used the recommended precautions, then monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days following your last contact with the ill person.
  • If you have had direct contact with body fluids of the ill person (e.g., were coughed or sneezed on when you weren’t wearing a mask), contact your local public health authority for further instructions.
  • If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself as quickly as possible and contact your local public health authority for further instructions.

Maintain these supplies

  • Face masks (do not re-use)
  • Eye protection (face shield or goggles) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable gloves (do not re-use) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Waste container with plastic liner
  • Thermometer
  • Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
  • Running water
  • Hand soap
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Regular laundry soap
  • Regular household cleaning products
  • One-step cleaner/disinfectant
  • Hard surface disinfectant, or if not available, concentrated (5%) liquid bleach and a separate container for dilution
  • Alcohol prep wipes

We can all do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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