What you need to know about COVID treatment and recovery

Cai Wenjun
With the rising prevalence of COVID-19 in the city, more people are staying at home. These are some frequently asked questions about infection, home isolation and recovery.
Cai Wenjun

With the rising prevalence of COVID-19 in Shanghai, more people are staying at home after catching the virus. Here are some frequently asked questions about infection, home isolation and recovery.

Q: How can I protect myself from infection?

A: Maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep good personal hygiene, keep social distance, wear a mask, increase ventilation, disinfect your environment and get vaccinated.

People with underlying diseases or conditions should follow doctors' instruction and reduce time outdoors during the cold weather.

Q: How do infections happen?

A: The COVID-19 virus can only enter the human body through the eyes, mouth and nose. There are three routes of infection, namely, droplet infection, contact infection and the inhalation of aerosols.

Droplet infection occurs when infected people cough, sneeze, talk, eat or drink, and the droplets are spread. These droplets are small particles that settle relatively quickly, and you can get infected by inhaling the droplets.

Contact infection occurs if someone infected touches their nose, mouth or eyes, and then touches something else, which will contaminate the object. You can get infected by touching the contaminated object and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

Aerosol infections occur when aerosols result from an infected person coughing, sneezing, talking, etc. Aerosols are very small particles (or microparticles) that can be suspended in the air, and travel far distances. You can get infected by inhaling the aerosol.

Q: What should I do if showing symptoms like fever, sore throat and cough?

A: You can conduct a self-antigen test or take a nucleic acid test to confirm whether you are contracted with the virus. If the infection is confirmed, you should stay at home, preferably in an independent room with a toilet. If you are sharing a toilet with family members, it is important to disinfect after each use. Conduct self-monitoring and check your temperature in the morning and at night.

It is important to self-isolate by reducing direct contacts with other people and not eating together. Put all used tissues, masks, disposable gloves and other waste into a special trash bin with a cover. Take medicine in line with instructions and not take antibiotics without prescription.

Q: What should I do while taking medicine?

A: Take medicine in line with your symptoms, and do not take more than one medicine with same ingredients to avoid overdose. The daily maximum of the anti-fever medicine paracetamol is 2 grams and four times with 24 hours. Ibuprofen should be taken in appropriate doses and shouldn't be used for over three days for fever. If you have diarrhea, do not take Lianhua Qingwen granules/capsules.

Q: Who are likely to develop serious symptoms after infection?

A: Elderly people (80 years old and above), obese people, people with underlying diseases like serious hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, people undergoing dialysis, cancer patients (especially those receiving regular chemotherapy), and those with autoimmune deficiency. Such groups should monitor their personal condition closely and go to the hospital if symptoms become severe.

Q: When should I call 120 for an ambulance?

A: Call 120 when having difficulty breathing, unable to eat for days, suffering serious diarrhea for over two days, children with change in consciousness levels, pregnant women with headache, nausea, chest sickness, stomachache, bleeding or abnormal fetal movement.

Q: Should I take infected children to hospital whenever they start to develop a fever?

A: Don't panic and don't take children to the hospital immediately after detecting they have a fever. If there are no other serious symptoms, they can stay at home and use proper treatment like putting a cold towel or a fever cooling patch on their forehead, give them a warm bath and maintain indoor ventilation. If infected children suffer from continuous high fever, poor spirit or convulsions, you should take them to the hospital at once.

Q: What should pregnant women pay attention to?

A: Paracetamol is the top choice for pregnant women with fever. Compound medicines, which have multiple ingredients including paracetamol, are not recommended.

Ibuprofen is not recommended to women in early pregnancy. There is no data to support the safety of ready-made traditional Chinese medicine, so such medicine is not recommended.

Go to the hospital upon experiencing abnormal fetal movement, stomachache, bleeding, shortness of breath, loss of appetite for over 24 hours, chest pain or sickness and nausea.

Q: What to do if my family member is COVID-positive?

A: Avoid sharing supplies, isolate the infected person's items and conduct regular disinfection, enhance health monitoring and conduct self-antigen tests.

Q: How to disinfect if a family member is positive?

A: Keep good ventilation, use physical measures like boiling or sunlight exposure and use suitable disinfectants to sweep or soak the floor and personal items. It is important to use a liquid concentration in line with the instructions on the product.

Q: Is it necessary to stock medicines at home?

A: No. For ordinary people, taking cold and anti-fever medicine, getting good rest and drinking water is enough. There is no need to stock large quantities of drugs at home. People with underlying diseases or elderly people should take medicine under the guidance of medical professionals.

COVID-19 is a self-limited disease, which means it resolves on its own and has no long-term harmful health effects. For healthy young and middle-aged people, symptoms disappear after about seven days and there is no need to take medicine if symptoms are not serious.

Q: How can I confirm that I have recovered from infection?

A: For people with mild conditions, if symptoms disappear, that means they've recovered. For serious patients, they should do a CT scan, if it shows pneumonia is clearly resolved, that means they are recovering.

So either of the three means ― two negative nucleic acid tests with an interval of 24 hours, CT value below 35, or three negative self-antigen tests in three consecutive days ― confirms that the infection is gone.

Q: What should recovered patients pay attention to?

A: They can go outside as usual but should wear a mask and keep social distance. They might feel tired in the first one or two weeks after recovery and should return to their normal pace of life gradually and protect themselves properly.

Q: How to turn the red health code green?

A: Those recovered can contact the neighborhood committee after antigen test is negative or go to nucleic acid testing spots for two negative results. Then their health code will turn green.

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