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How to treat symptoms of Covid-19 at home

WITH 97.6 per cent of the adult population in Malaysia being fully vaccinated, along with 93.5 per cent of adolescents aged between 12 to 171 as of May 24, the current vaccination rate looks promising.

However, Malaysians are advised to continue practising self-control as much as they can, especially with the presence of Covid-19 variants such as Omicron and Delta.

New Straits Times spoke to Consultant in Respiratory & Internal Medicine Physician Dr Hilmi Lockman, to share his expert guidance on the most effective ways for Malaysians to look after themselves at home if they have Covid-19.  

TAKING PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

Dr Hilmi said that if individuals are close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, they must immediately undergo the Covid-19 self-test2

"Regardless of vaccination status, people who are participating in activities involving individuals from different households are also encouraged to get tested for Covid-19.

"This includes interstate travel, mass religious gatherings, participating in sporting or recreational tournaments, wedding ceremonies, social gatherings and more." 

In the event that the results show a positive result, the first thing one should do is report their Covid-19 results on the MySejahtera app3

"The next step is to isolate yourself or quarantine immediately to break the chain of infection in the community. Adhere to the Home Surveillance Order imposed by the Health Ministry," Dr Hilmi explained. 

He also emphasised the importance of informing any close contacts, so they may self-quarantine as well4

"An infected person can spread Covid-19 starting 48 hours before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. 

"By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to Covid-19, you are helping to protect everyone.

"Also, inform the health authorities or visit your nearest Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) nearby for further assessment or if your condition has worsened while self-isolating at home, such as difficulty in breathing and high temperature." Dr Hilmi said.

When asked how long should Covid-19 patients self-isolate, Dr Hilmi advised, "While both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients must quarantine themselves for five days for those who received the Covid-19 booster dose and seven days for those with complete/incomplete/no vaccination5; symptomatic patients can stop isolating if they do not exhibit any symptoms." 

 

GUIDELINES TO PRACTICE AT HOME

For those who are required to quarantine at home, there are ways to prevent infecting other members of the same household. 

Apart from maintaining physical distance from family members, limiting movement around the house and not allowing visitors during the quarantine period6 also helps prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"Comply with basic preventive measures such as wearing a face mask when you go out of your room and avoid contact with others. Wash your hands regularly and practise good cough etiquette," said Dr Hilmi. 

Along with maintaining a one metre distance from others, Dr Hilmi stressed that sharing household items7 is out of the question.

"Do not share towels, utensils, tableware such as forks, knives or plates, and personal hygiene items. If possible, stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from other household members." 

If one starts to develop Covid-19 symptoms, it is recommended to wear a face mask, or to cover the mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing7

"Throw the tissues into the closed dustbin and immediately wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser," he added. 

Dr Hilmi also advised keeping all the windows open, to ensure the house is properly ventilated7

TREATING THE SYMPTOMS

During the self-quarantine period, it is important to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. 

Other ways to treat the symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever and pain, according to Dr Hilmi, is to opt for over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen, or commonly known as paracetamol8,9,10, based on the prescribed dosage on the label.

"Two pills of 500mg paracetamol have proven to provide effective relief for adults. You can take one to two pills of 500mg paracetamol every four to six hours, but no more than eight pills of 500mg paracetamol a day," Dr Hilmi emphasised.  

As for Covid-19 patients who remain asymptomatic, they may continue to self-monitor their health daily.

"Call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest hospital immediately to seek emergency medical care if you are in the high-risk category or start showing emergency warning signs such as difficulty breathing, loss of speech or mobility, confusion, chest pain and prolonged fever for more than two days," Dr Hilmi added.

As the country returns to normalcy, it is important to not be complacent with the ongoing pandemic. Instead, be responsible by complying when required to self-quarantine, as well as monitoring health on a regular basis.

Everyone has a part to play to keep the nation healthy and safe, and this includes being cautious of the virus, to prevent another wave of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia.

The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care. 

 

1COVIDNOW. Vaccinations in Malaysia. 25 January 2022. Retrieved from link.

2Ministry of Health Malaysia. National COVID-19 Testing Strategy. November 2021.

3Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. COVID-19 Self-Test. Retrieved from Facebook link.

4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What to Do If You Are Sick. March 2021. Retrieved from link..

5Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Pemantauan Kendiri Kes Positif COVID-19 di Rumah – Tempoh Pengasingan. October 2021. Retrieved from link.

6Ministry of Health Malaysia. Category 1 - COVID-19 MALAYSIA. March 2021. Retrieved from link.

7Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Pemantauan Kendiri Kes Positif COVID-19 di Rumah – Pemantauan Kendiri. October 2021. Retrieved from link.

8World Health Organization (WHO). Clinical management of COVID-19: Interim Guidance. 27 May 2020. Retrieved from link.

9European Medicines Agency (EMA). EMA gives advice on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for COVID-19. 18 March 2020. Retrieved from link.

10National Institutes of Health (NIH). Concomitant Medications | COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines. 4 August 2021. Retrieved from link.

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