Eyes on patients in home isolation Better late than never

Better late than never, one may say. Significant to note that the State Government has deemed it fit now to acknowledge that ‘home isolation without proper facilities for the same has been a major cause for the rapid spread of the virus.’ This is a line which The Sangai Express has been advocating from the very beginning, that is when the virus first landed on the soil of Manipur and the Government made special arrangements to ferry back thousands stranded in different parts of the country, when the Nationwide lockdown was imposed during the first wave of the epidemic. Keeping in touch with reality, that is what The Sangai Express did when it questioned the merit of advocating home isolation for Covid positive people, in the face of the three commandments laid down by the World Health Organisation and backed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-Always were a face mask when out in public places, maintain social distancing and maintain personal hygiene, particularly washing one’s hands with soap and water or with a hand sanitiser. Social or physical distancing, this is the crux of the matter. How many households in Manipur have separate rooms for each of its members ? How many families have separate bathrooms and toilets ? The fact is, in many households, a single toilet and a single bathroom continue to serve all members of a family. In the face of such a reality, how effective would home isolation be is the natural question that arises. The very fact that the Government has directed doctors and nurses to regularly check up on those on home isolation now raises the question of how closely were those on home isolation kept track of ? Or was it more a question of those on home isolation left to themselves with just the instruction not to mingle with the family members ? This is where things don’t add up and it is good that the Government seems to have woken up to this important point.
Asymptomatic cases. This was what doctors in Manipur had seriously warned during the first wave of the pandemic and  there is no saying whether family members of anyone opting or made to undergo home isolation can fall into this category. And it is the asymptomatic persons who can and will spread the virus and this could be one primary reason why the Government has started looking at this aspect, even as the number of positive cases continue to surge to unprecedented highs. ‘Persons in home isolation require a separate room to stay in, a person to take care of them and monitor their oxygen saturation levels. All they need is paracetamol and vitamins. Depending on the age, some may need extra blood tests to monitor their condition.’ This is not the Sangai Express making this statement but a senior consultant in Infectious Diseases of the renowned Apollo Hospitals. Now how many families in Manipur have separate rooms for each member, not to talk about separate toilets and bathrooms ? This is not all for read what the All India Institute of Medical Sciences has had to say-‘The availability of requisite facility with attached separate bathroom at the residence is necessary for self isolation.’  These are some random examples which have been picked up and certainly many homesteads in Manipur will not fulfil this, and if this is the case, how feasible would home isolation be without infecting other family members who may remain asymptomatic ? Manipur certainly cannot afford to take chances with this virus.