- What is ‘close contact’ – 1 meter distance for 15 minutes
- What to do after you know– Inform the barangay health response team
- Where will you be isolated – at home, quarantine facility or hospital
What happens after you come into close contact with one who just tested positive for COVID-19?
Or what happens if you feel sick and think you have the mild symptoms of the virus?
Manila Bulletin has drawn a step-by-step guide on what happens from the time a person comes into close contact with an infected person to the time he or she is tested and gets a negative or a positive result. We interviewed Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire to help us draw up this guide.
It also relates the steps that a person with mild symptoms will go through until he or she is either referred to a hospital or to a quarantine facility – or to self quarantine at home.
What to do after you are informed you had been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID:
1. Isolate/separate yourself from other people. The World Health Organization defines “close contact” as a person who has had face-to-face contact with a confirmed case within one meter and for more than 15 minutes.
A) If possible, stay in a specific room in your home. If you don’t have a room, maintain physical distancing with the other members of your family and wear a face mask. Also separate your utensils: spoon and fork, plate, and your drinking glass.
B) Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; or use alcohol-based sanitizer.
C) If you have a fever, you may take a paracetamol. If you have a sore throat, you may take throat lozenges or drink tea, the DOH said.
2. Inform your local health officials/Barangay Health Response Teams (BHERTS) that you are isolating at home because you had a close contact with a person with COVID-19, or if you are exhibiting symptoms.
3. The BHERTs will arrange your referral to undergo a COVID-19 test. There are 105 licensed COVID-19 testing centers nationwide.
4. While waiting for your test result, you should undergo strict isolation.
5. The BHERTs will evaluate if you will be placed in a temporary treatment and monitoring facility (TTMF), or if you can go home quarantine, or if you need to go to a hospital. BHERT is composed of the local health officials, so they determine who should be tested and quarantined based on DOH protocols, said DOH Undersecretary Vergeire.
6. There are two types of TTMF – the LIGTAS COVID Center or the local isolation and general treatment areas for COVID-19 cases and the Mega LIGTAS COVID Center.
a) LIGTAS COVID Centers are managed by the local government units. “It is a community-managed facility within a barangay, municipality, city or province, where contact, suspect, probable, and confirmed cases of COVID-19 with mild symptoms, whose home environment cannot support physical distancing,” the DOH said.
b) MEGA LIGTAS Centers are the “larger scale versions of the LIGTAS COVID Center, managed by the national government.” There are 14 MEGA facilities nationwide: In Metro Manila: Philippine International Convention Center, World Trade Center, Las Pinas Rehabilitation Center, Quezon Institute, Ultra Stadium, Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Ninoy Aquino Stadium, and Ynares Sports Complex; In Central Luzon: ASEAN Convention Center, New Clark City National Government Administrative Center, Philippine Arena, Filinvest, and Mega Treatment and Rehabilitation Center; In Calabarzon: the Alonte Sports Arena.
7. Prepare the following things while you are waiting for the BHERTs’ referral for admission in a TTMF: valid identification cards, maintenance medicine, cellphone or other necessary gadgets, alcohol or hand sanitizers, extra cash, clothes, toiletries, among others.
8. Free food is provided in the quarantine centers, Usec. Vergeire said, but relatives may also deliver food to you which should be endorsed to the caregivers in the TTMF, the DOH said.
When can a patient choose home quarantine
1. The DOH does not prohibit individuals to undergo home quarantine as long as the following requirements are strictly met: The patient has his or her own room with bathroom, and there is no person living in the house who is vulnerable to the virus (senior citizens, and those who may be compromised due to a disease or illness). While on home quarantine, the patient should clean and disinfect surfaces in the room, wash hands often, and thoroughly wash utensils after use.
When the patient is positive for COVID-19
1. The patient will remain in the TTMF or hospital until advised that it is safe to return to normal activities.
2. A patient under home quarantine should immediately inform the local health officers or the BHERTs that he or she tested positive and follow their instructions.
3. The patient should also inform his or her own physician to ask for advice on the care needed especially if the patient is suffering from certain diseases.
4. Contact tracing will be conducted by the BHERTs.
5. The patient should inform those who they were in contact with – starting two days from the time they were diagnosed –so these contacts can also isolate themselves.
6. If the patient has trouble breathing or if the condition deteriorates, immediately seek medical attention or call the BHERTs for assistance.
What if you test negative for COVID?
1. The person should still complete the quarantine of 14 days, said Dr. Beverly Ho, DOH director for Health Promotion and Communication Service.
2. After the quarantine, return to normal activities and strictly observe the minimum health standards.