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How to self-isolate and tips to not get bored indoors

The Federal Government has called for people to self-isolate at home if they have just returned from overseas or have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed with coronavirus or COVID-19.

<p>Self-isolation lasts for 14 days because if you have the virus, it should become apparent during this time. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

Self-isolation lasts for 14 days because if you have the virus, it should become apparent during this time. [Source: Shutterstock]

According to health experts most of us will get the virus at some stage so it can be expected that at some point over the next few months you may have to self-isolate at home.

The best way to prepare for this is to plan so you don’t need to panic about what may happen if you do need to self-isolate in the future.

What is self-isolation?

At the moment, Australia has a mandatory self-isolation rule in place for anyone who has returned from overseas or anyone who has been in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

This self-isolation lasts for 14 days because if you have the virus, it should become apparent during this time.

Even if you are tested for coronavirus and it comes up negative, the Government still wants you to self-isolate for 14 days in case the virus begins to show.

When self-isolating, you must self-monitor your health. If you are experiencing any fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, or other flu-like symptoms, this could be an indicator that you have the coronavirus. For more information about the coronavirus, read our article on the Aged Care Guide.

If you develop any symptoms, call your local doctor’s office or hospital before going. They will ask questions about any overseas travel or if you have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Don’t walk into your doctor without calling ahead first. You don’t want to risk infecting others in the waiting room.

The coronavirus test involved a special swab taking samples from the back of the throat or the nose. You should receive your test results back either later that day, or within one to two days.

Once you have been confirmed with the coronavirus by a doctor, you must self-isolate until the symptoms are gone AND a health authority has told you that you no longer need to self-isolate.

A public health officer will call you daily for an update if you have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Why does self-isolation help?

At the moment, the Government is attempting to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak, this can include self-isolation or social distancing.

Flattening the curve refers to a graph that shows how the rate of infection can be lowered for a longer period of time if enough early countermeasures are put in place.

The aim of flattening the curve is to spread out the amount of infection over a longer period of time.

The reason flattening the curve is so important is that if the number of people who contract the coronavirus blows out, it will be above the capacity for the health system to manage.

If the community can reduce the number of people who contract coronavirus, then the health system will be able to continue functioning normally.

Gladys Berejiklian, New South Wales Premier, recently called for everyone to act as if they already have coronavirus to prevent further spread of the virus.

This means everyone needs to put the effort into self-distancing themselves from others, or if necessary, self-isolate and staying at home.

If you have to self-isolate, what do I have to do?

You are not allowed to leave your home for 14 days. However, you are allowed to utilise your own backyard, garden or courtyard.

Limit your access to common areas in your home if possible. If you live in an apartment complex or hotel, you are allowed to utilise communal gardens, but wear a surgical mask to protect others.

If possible, wear a surgical mask to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to more people. This includes when you are around the home.

Even while you are isolated, it is important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or with a high alcohol content hand sanitiser. 

Make sure to wash your hands before and after you eat, and after you go to the bathroom.

Cover any coughs or sneezes, dispose of tissues in a bin, and wash your hands after every cough or sneeze.

Also, don’t touch your face! This can increase your likelihood of getting sick.

Make it a habit to clean down surfaces more often. This includes door handles, light switches, kitchen benches and bathroom areas. Use disinfectant or detergent to remove germs more effectively.

You are still about to leave your house if you need to, for example, if you need food from the shops or to go to a doctors appointment, but try to avoid leaving home where possible and wear a surgical mask to avoid spreading the virus.

Make sure to visit your State/Territory health website to find out if there are any specific isolation rules in place.

What happens if I live with someone else?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and live with others that have had close contact with you, then they will be required to self isolate as well.

Make sure to follow the same rules as you would if you lived alone, and don’t share any food you have made with someone else.

Tips on keeping sane indoors yourself 

You are probably going to have a lot of time to yourself while at home and boredom can set in. We’ve put together some tips of how to get through self-isolation:

  • While being stuck in quarantine can make you feel trapped, there are ways to get out and about. Ask your relatives how to set up video calls on your computer and phone so you continue keeping socially active.

  • If you use social media, that is a great way to keep in contact with your friends, family, and other social groups.

  • This is the best time to utilise the technology you have or catch up on any TV shows you are behind on.

  • Try to keep exercising at home because it can help improve your mood. Little or no activity can make you feel more sluggish and low on energy. If you can, clear a space in your home or in your backyard to do exercise. Consider using an instructional DVD, dancing, floor exercises, yoga or pilates, or using home equipment. 

  • Being at home can give you a lot more time to spend on your hobbies, whether that is reading, arts and crafts, pressing flowers, or music.

  • If you are still working, you may be able to get permission from your workplace to work remotely.

  • Try to keep a little normality in your life and stick to your everyday routine.

For more information about self-isolation, go to the Department of Health website, or visit the Aged Care Guide’s COVID-19 update page.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus that you want answered? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Prime Minister announces further restrictions to aged care

Coronavirus stimulus package boosts aged care

Potential lockdowns for aged care facilities at risk of coronavirus

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