With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 now producing record numbers of cases daily, consider creating your own Covid-19 isolation kit in case you’re faced with a positive case in your home. 

What should your COVID kit contain?

Basics, both for infection control and managing symptoms, are important, as you won’t be able to shop once a positive case arises.

Having them as a ‘kit’ means you can react quickly, limiting the positive person’s exposure to others.

For infection control:

  • Surgical masks or N95, P2, or KF94 masks.
  • Disposable gloves for handling the isolated person’s dishes, but handwashing for 20 seconds is still crucial.
  • Cleaning products such as household disinfectants and disinfectant sprays, hand soap, hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests are an important part of any COVID-19 kit. Ideally, at least two per person in the household; one to establish whether there’s an infection and another for follow up later on in the isolation period.

Managing symptoms:

  • Basic pain medication: Panadol or Nurofen or Paracetamol (available in both adult and children’s strength)
  • Hydralyte or ice blocks
  • A thermometer to monitor fevers.
  • A pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels. These devices can be purchased for around $30 and are a good way to indicate whether a COVID-19 case needs medical treatment. 
  • At least a two-week supply of any regular medication
  • Vitamins such as Vitamin C, D and Zinc
  • Enough food — have some frozen meals handy, for when fatigue hits
  • Contact details for GP, medical support or assistance.
  • Activities for the isolated person’s entertainment during isolation– a good book, magazines, Netflix, games etc 

COVID-19 is at its most infectious in the days before symptoms hit, so it can pay to be prepared by having isolation plans in place in case a household member does test positive.

Close contact rules are updating regularly. Currently, If you live with someone who has COVID-19 then you must follow the NSW Health Self Isolation Guidelines and self-isolate for 7 days, even if you test negative.

This may mean: wearing masks in common areas in the home even before symptoms, limiting visitors, and doing regular rapid antigen tests.

Sealing gaps around doors with adhesive strips or doorstops, especially if you live in an apartment. And in the event of a positive case in the home, sealing off the bedroom of the infected person.

Have your COVID-19 Safety Plan Ready

Remember, self-isolation means staying in your own room without face-to-face contact with anyone. You should not be sharing any space with another person. Choose a room for isolation that isn’t adjacent to common areas where other household members gather.

The person who has to self-isolate requires their own personal items to stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.

They should have:

Bedroom – Own bed, own bedsheets, own pillow, own pillowcases, own blankets

Bathroom – Own towels, own face washers, own toothbrushes and toothpaste

Toilet and shower: The person self-isolating should have their own toilet and shower to stop the spread of COVID-19. If the house has more than one bathroom, one should be set aside for COVID-positive people to use. If there’s a bedroom with an ensuite, switch rooms, so the infected can remain as isolated as possible.

If you only have one bathroom, aim for as little crossover as possible. After every use, it should be wiped down with disinfectant. You must clean the toilet, shower and every surface after the sick person uses any shared area. Wash your hands with soap and water properly for 20 seconds before and after cleaning. Any windows in the bathroom should remain open, fans on and the toilet flushed with the lid closed. Or you may need to consider alternate accommodation options.

Kitchen – Own plate, own bowl, own cup, own mug, own cutlery

General– Own masks (person self-isolating)

Food: In most cases, this will mean delivering food and essentials to the infected person’s door. Always wear a mask and leave some time after the door was last opened to allow any infected air to move on, then wave the still air before removing the used tray. Ensure all items used by the isolated person are washed separately to other items.

Points to remember:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you use often such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs
  • Clean and disinfect objects you use often such as mobile phones, keys, wallets and work passes.

Clear the air

  • It’s important to pay attention to safe indoor air, as COVID-19 is an airborne virus.
  • Ventilation is key, so circulate and disperse air quickly by opening windows and doors. If you are lucky and have an air purifier, use it in low-ventilated spaces near where the positive person is isolated. Be mindful that air conditioning can pose a risk if the air is recycled throughout the house.

Physical distancing

  • One way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is physical distancing. The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

Physical distancing means:

  • Keeping 1.5 metres away from others wherever possible
  • Avoiding physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • Practising extra care on public transport
  • Avoiding crowds and large gatherings
  • Practising good hygiene
  • Testing (use RAT where possible) and staying at home if you have any cold or flu symptoms.                                                                                

Acknowledgments: ABC News: Maani Truu, ABC News: Maren Preuss, Australian Government website, AH & MRC, OzSage, Professor Bennett, Professor McIntyre