Our country’s battle with the second wave of the deadly virus is not yet over. While the number of cases has started to decline, we are still far away from letting our guards down. Our healthcare workers are completely exhausted and yet giving all they have to save our lives. They are not just looking after their patients who are admitted to hospitals but also those who are treating themselves at home. A lot of people who contract the virus and have mild COVID symptoms, self-isolate themselves and get in touch with their doctors through teleconsultation.
However, home isolation is not an easy task and the entire family has to be extremely responsible while treating the COVID positive member. Not only do you need to track the symptoms of every family member, but you also have to stay extra careful with daily chores. This includes avoiding and disinfecting the common surfaces and personal items that the patient comes in contact with. While the basic rules are the same for everyone, a lot of people are confused about whether they can share a COVID positive member’s oximeter and thermometer.
We reached out to Dr Shalaka Dighe, ENT Surgeon, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Mumbai, to help us out with facts.
The first rule to avoid COVID-19 is to wash hands regularly as they may contain the virus. And as the infected person is required to place their finger in the oximeter, how safe does it make it for someone else to share it?
Dr. Shalaka Dighe says, “Mild Covid patients will recover at home without hospital admission. But, many people tend to live in smaller homes. Hence, the isolation and management of Covid positive patients become difficult, and the risk of transmitting the virus from one person to other becomes higher. If you are taking care of a COVID positive patient in your home, then make sure that you have a separate oximeter for every family member. There is a possibility of the virus spreading via oximeter.”
While buying a separate oximeter seems like a wise option, a lot of people may not be able to buy or arrange it in time. What should a person do in that case? “If you are unable to buy a separate oximeter then sanitize the oximeter when the Covid positive patient uses it and only then can you use it. Leave the instrument in the open space for some time to dry. Wear a mask while using the instrument. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the oximeter,” says Dr Shalaka.
Wondering if the same rule applies to thermometer as well? “Avoid sharing the same thermometer used by a COVID positive patient. Oral temperature gives a more accurate measure of the core body temperature of a patient. So, it is the safest bet to avoid using a thermometer that has been put into the mouth of the COVID positive patient,” explains Dr Shalaka.
What to do with the oximeter once the person has tested negative and completed their isolation period? As per Dr Shalaka, it is safe to use it, “but continue sanitizing the instrument after every use.”
Well, while I didn’t share my thermometer and oximeter when I was in isolation a month ago, I sure could have used this information.
Also, if you are taking care of a positive member at home, then here are some picks that might come in handy:
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