What you need to know about COVID-19 home isolation and quarantine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The pandemic response task force recently approved the home management of certain COVID-positive individuals and their close contacts, as the country deals with yet another alarming surge in fresh infections.

It's been dubbed a "policy shift" by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), aimed at preventing hospitals and health care facilities from being overwhelmed.

CNN Philippines lists the conditions and requirements one must observe to be allowed to quarantine or isolate at home.

Who are allowed home management?

According to the IATF's latest resolution, home isolation is allowed for infected individuals who have mild, moderate, or no symptoms.

Close contacts of suspect, probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases are also permitted to undergo home quarantine.

Department of Health (DOH) guidelines as of Jan. 14 state fully vaccinated COVID-19 patients with no or mild symptoms must isolate for seven days. Unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated patients, however, are required a 10-day isolation period.

Regardless of inoculation status, those with moderate symptoms should undergo a 10-day isolation period.

Fully vaccinated close contacts are required to quarantine for five days as long as they continue to monitor for flu-like symptoms until the 14th day. Meanwhile, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated close contacts must undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

What requirements must be met?

At the minimum, those undergoing home isolation or quarantine must have a dedicated room and toilet, according to DOH Circular 2022-0002. They also must be monitored by a health care provider or a local government unit.

The circular dated Jan. 6 also specifies infrastructure requirements for home management: a well-ventilated room, communication line with family and health workers, basic utilities like electricity and potable water, along with solid waste and sewage disposal.

The patient must have a separate bedroom, or a separate bed with enough distance — at least 3 feet or 1 meter — provided there are no vulnerable persons in the household such as seniors or people with weak immune systems.

The patient's primary caregiver must remain in the residence, the circular adds. He or she must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, isn't at high risk for complications, and is educated on proper precautions.

The caregiver shall also take charge of meal preparation and ensure the availability of masks, tissues, and other hygiene products; laundry; and household cleaning products during the period.

For patient monitoring, the DOH requires a thermometer, pulse oximeter, and a blood pressure apparatus if he or she has history of hypertension.

The caregiver should also possess a recommended meal plan or information materials on proper nutrition, along with access to basic necessities like delivery services.

The patient must also be provided psychosocial support activities or activities they can do while isolated or quarantined. Caregivers, meanwhile, must have with them the family health plan and instructions.

Medicines to manage COVID-19 symptoms must also be present. The circular also states that medications needed for the patient's pre-existing conditions must be on stock.

Surgical masks are required for the patient and the caregiver during the isolation period. However, the circular also encourages the entire household to observe this.

Also listed as personal protective equipment for disinfection are the following: gown, head covering, and gloves.

I cannot quarantine or isolate at home. What now?

Individuals unable to meet these requirements must avail of facility quarantine and isolation, the DOH said.

The DOH circular lays out how to prioritize individuals for quarantine and isolation in facilities should they be unable to meet home management requirements and facilities are scarce.

At the top of the list are probable and confirmed COVID-positive senior citizens (A2) and individuals with underlying illnesses (A3), followed by cases that aren't part of these priority sectors.

Prioritized next are probable and confirmed cases of the A2 and A3 priority sectors that have the capacity to isolate at home, then those who aren't seniors or without any existing medical condition but can perform home management.

Within each group, the unvaccinated are prioritized over the partially unvaccinated and fully vaccinated before moving on to the next group.