Everyday more than lakhs of people are getting diagnosed with Covid-19, making it extremely difficult for hospitals and doctors to manage each patient and provide necessary medical facilities and basic requirements like beds, oxygen cylinders, concentrators etc. Right now, depending upon the recorded signs and symptoms, the highly contagious infection is categorized into 5 types, mainly; Asymptomatic, Mild, Moderate, Severe and Critical. Since the moderate to critical symptoms require immediate medical intervention and even hospitalization, as per the recent guidelines by the Union Health Ministry, doctors suggest that patients with asymptomatic and mild variety treat and manage the symptoms being in home quarantine or isolation.
Well, we are already aware as soon as one gets a positive Covid test, the infected individual needs to quarantine himself or herself and monitor the symptoms on a daily basis to avoid complications. But do we know when to actually come out of it?
Worry not! We got all doubts cleared. This article gives you a detailed guideline on what is home isolation and when is the right time to end it.
What Is Home Isolation?
Also referred to as Home Quarantine, it is the time period when a person isolates himself or herself on getting a positive report upon doing the Rapid Antigen test or RTPCR test and maintains all sorts of precautions and protocols as suggested by medical authorities in the ICMR guidelines. Although having a proper well-equipped home isolation facility and a care giver is extremely beneficial for good recovery from the Covid-19 infection, many people fail to understand the right time to end this isolation.
When Is The Right Time To Come Out Of Home Isolation?
As specified by CDC, in accordance to the nature of the symptoms and the incubation period (i.e., 5-12 days) of the SARS-CoV2 virus, a full-fledged recovery from this deadly infection often takes a minimum of 14 days.
Specifically, several studies and researchers have reported that people suffering from mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms remain infectious no longer than 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, and those with moderate to critical illness or those who are severely immunocompromised remain infectious no longer than 20 days after their symptoms began.
According to the Centre For Disease Control, people diagnosed with asymptomatic form of Covid 19 may discontinue self-isolation and other precautionary measures 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. For severely immunocompromised patients who were asymptomatic throughout their infectious period, transmission-based precautions may be discontinued when at least 10 days or up to 20 days have passed since the date of their first positive viral diagnostic test. For further enquiry, consult with an infectious diseases specialist or the treating doctor to help you decide on the right time of ending isolation.
In the case of patients, who had mild symptoms and were asked to take self-isolation with precautionary measures, they may discontinue home quarantine if at least 10 days have passed since the onset of the symptoms or at least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications or when other noticeable symptoms have vastly improved. A mere percentage of people with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may require extending the duration of isolation for up to 20 days after the onset of the symptoms. Do consult with an infection control expert or your treating doctor for further enquiry.
One can also end the home isolation period on getting two negative RT-PCR reports (spaced 24 hours apart). However, in the current scenario with the surge in cases and high testing demands faced by diagnostic laboratories, a person is no longer required to get retested for COVID-19 if the designated isolation period has passed.
According to Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), "It is scientifically proved that the virus in mild cases dies after six or seven days." Hence ending the isolation after about 14 days on cessation of the symptoms can be suggested.
Can A Person Transmit The Infection After End Of Isolation?
According to studies, the virus usually runs its course and dies after 14 days. And with the dead viral load slowly depleting from the body after the infectious symptoms end implies that the person is no longer contagious.
But in some cases, even after 10-12 days, an RT-PCR test can still come back positive as it picks up the viral debris which is still present in the body. But there is nothing to worry as this dead viral load is not infectious and does not pose a threat of transmission. But for further safety, doctors specify to observe 7 more days of home isolation by continuing to wear masks, maintaining preventive measures and practicing good hygiene at home.
Is It Safe To Interact With Other People After Isolation?
Well, on getting a negative RT-PCR test twice, spaced 24 hours apart, and a marked decline in infectious Covid-19 symptoms, it is safe to interact and be around other people. But keeping current situation and safety guidelines in mind, it is still necessary to wear masks, follow basic protocols and maintain social distancing wherever possible.