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Coronavirus self-quarantine: The steps you should take

In response to the coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health asks travelers returning from high-risk countries to self-quarantine for 14 days

This March 7, 2020 photograph provided by Holly Taylor Coolman, shows a form held by her son James Coolman while quarantined at their family home in Providence, R.I. The Saint Raphael Academy high school student is doing classwork online from home due to his exposure to someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus. (Holly Taylor Coolman photo via AP)
This March 7, 2020 photograph provided by Holly Taylor Coolman, shows a form held by her son James Coolman while quarantined at their family home in Providence, R.I. The Saint Raphael Academy high school student is doing classwork online from home due to his exposure to someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus. (Holly Taylor Coolman photo via AP) (Holly Taylor Coolman)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In response to the new coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health on Monday asked any travelers returning from the high-risk counties -- China, Iran, Italy and South Korea -- to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days.

That means staying home and avoiding contact with others.

The state Department of Health also urges anyone who traveled on a river cruise on the Nile River in Egypt in February to self-isolate for 14 days because some passengers have tested positive for COVID-19.

What you should do if you’ve traveled to a country with an outbreak of COVID-19

Level 3

According to the CDC, you should stay home for 14 days from the time you left a country under the Level 3 Travel Health Notice -- China, Iran, Italy and South Korea -- and practice social distancing.

Here are the steps the CDC says you should take:

  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also, watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  • Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  • Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

Level 2 and cruises

The CDC has placed Japan under a Level 2 alert due to the coronavirus.

This is what the CDC says you should do if you spent time in Japan during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing:

  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

The State Department also urges U.S. citizens, especially those with underlying medical conditions, to avoid cruise ship travel. If you were on a cruise in the last 14 days, the CDC says you should:

  • Monitor your health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the United States.
  • If a case of COVID-19 was reported on your ship during the cruise, stay home during these 14 days and practice social distancing.
  • Stay home if you feel sick with fever, cough or have trouble breathing and call ahead before you seek medical care
  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

For more information regarding current CDC travel advisories related to COVID-19, click here.

CDC guidelines on home care

Below are guidelines from the CDC for people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including those under investigation:

Stay home except to get medical care

People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

“The coronavirus is highly contagious. Now you’re living in close quarters and the chances of you getting infected or infecting a family member or somebody that you live with, a roommate, is going to be extremely high," said Dr. Alexis Vazquez, a pulmonologist at Memorial Hospital.

Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. Click here for more information.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a facemask if you are sick

You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.

Soap and water are the best option if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

“One thing I would do is make sure everything is disinfected -- all of the counter surfaces. Wipe down your home or your apartment or condo just up and down --- floors, counters, everywhere," Vazquez said.

Monitor your symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed. Ask your healthcare provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.

If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.

Discontinuing home isolation

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

Click here to view the CDC’s recommendations for caregivers.


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