COVID 19: ABCs of Self Quarantine

By March 24, 2020 Advocacy, Knowledge Exchange, News

(Transforming Health Professions for Quality and Ethical Health Care)


As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify worldwide and in Kenya, the Ministry of Health has urged the public to practice social distancing to limit the virus’s spread. As the number of cases grow, certain groups have been asked to also self-quarantine and self-isolate.

Question 1: What is self-quarantine?
Answer: Self-quarantine is a process in which an individual who may have been in contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 or comes back from a country with documented cases stays at his/her home, hotel room, or any identified accommodation WITHOUT mixing with family members or the general public.

Question 2: What is the difference between self-quarantine, self-isolation, and social distancing?
Answer: Self-quarantine is staying in place, either at home or elsewhere, for fourteen days because you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Self-isolation would be isolating within the house after you start showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Social distancing is a response in which people remain home and distant from others (such as by refraining from shaking hands or hugging or going to the store at off hours), without any known exposure to the virus, to limit possible transmission to or from others.

Question 3: How long should I be in self-quarantine?or When can the self-isolation end?
Answer: This should be for a period of 14 days. If you don’t develop symptoms after the 14 days, you are free to go on with your normal day to day activities.

Question 4: What is the benefit of self-quarantine?
Answer: Self-quarantine is intended to facilitate early detection of symptoms due to COVID-19, and to prevent the spread of infection in the communities, to loved ones and/or other countries or areas.

Question 5: What activities should I be doing while in self-quarantine?
• Stay in a well-ventilated room away from other individuals, preferably with separate hygiene and toilet facilities. In case the toilet and bathroom facilities are shared, ensure that you personally disinfect them after use using regular household disinfectant (containing 0.5% sodium hypochlorite solution) or soap and water
• If you are working, ensure that you stay at home for 14 days to complete the quarantine
• Ensure that you always wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• When washing hands with soap and water, it is preferable to use disposable paper towels to dry hands. If these are not available, use clean cloth towels and replace them when they become wet.
• Ensure that you have adequate stocks of food, water, toiletries, and medications for both supportive care and any pre-existing medical conditions during the period of self-quarantine
• Always cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing, flush it (with immediate disinfection of the toilet) or safely place the tissue into a waste bin with a lid before it is disposed of as infectious waste, and wash your hands immediately with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
• In case you have any pets at home, stay away from them, as there is a chance of humans passing the disease to them
• Avoid sharing of toothbrushes, utensils, towels, drinks, dishes, clothes, or bed linen with anybody in your home
• Wash and disinfect your own utensils, towels, clothes, and bed linen. Regular household soap or detergent should be used first for cleaning and then, after rinsing, regular household disinfectant containing 0.5% sodium hypochlorite should be used.
• Make sure you personally clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs/handles, bedside tables, bed frames, and other bedroom furniture daily with a regular household disinfectant or soap and water

Question 6: When Can I Seek Help?  
If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing, please call for help using the following Ministry of Health hotlines: 0800721316 (Toll-Free), 0729471414, and 0732353535 but stay home as long as those symptoms are manageable (like you would for a normal cold or flu).



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