Home insulation is a good idea | HT Editorial – Editorials
In new guidelines released Monday, the health ministry prescribed an important new method for handling suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases. Those with very mild symptoms, or who are asymptomatic, and have the necessary facilities at home, can now be isolated at home, rather than being admitted to a hospital. This depends on a set of conditions. There must be a 24 * 7 caregiver; there must be constant communication between the caregiver and a hospital; the patient should have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and kept it active; the patient must provide periodic updates to the district surveillance officer; the caregiver and other close contacts should take hydroxychloroquine; If severe symptoms develop, the patient should seek immediate medical attention; and the period of home isolation will end only after the patient tests negative and a medical officer presents a certificate.
This is a welcome move. Based on what is now known about coronavirus disease, it is clear that a larger number of infected individuals are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. They will also recover with proper care. Health systems around the world, and even more so in developing countries like India, are already stressed. The lockout period has undoubtedly been used to increase testing, increase hospital beds, create dedicated quarantine facilities, and ensure the availability of more ventilators. But if there is a wave of cases, which is likely once the restrictions are eased, India will not have the necessary infrastructure to deal with it. This is where home insulation will help. With proper precautions, patients can stay home, and recover, without straining the health system.
But there are real implementation challenges. Given India’s high population density and the fact that large sections of citizens live in narrow homes, sharing a room with a dozen people, many do not have the space to exercise this option. For those who can take advantage of this option, the obstacle will be in monitoring. The whole idea depends on two main variables: patients and their caregivers voluntarily provide accurate information every day; and from district medical authorities who are already too stretched to follow up on such cases and intervene when necessary. If any of these conditions is not met, the plan will not work. It is also important to note that there is often a rapid decline, where symptom-free patients end up developing severe symptoms, at which point the chances of survival decrease. This means that there should be no delay in hospital admissions. But if these issues are addressed, the home isolation experiment can provide a much-needed respite for the Indian healthcare system.