The best defence against COVID-19 is following all public health measures, but even if you have been extraordinarily careful you may still contract COVID-19. In this case, you may be wondering what you should do to self-treat at home and when to go to the hospital.
Q: If I test positive for COVID-19, what should I do and how should I self-treat at home?
A: If you test positive for COVID-19, you should immediately self-isolate*, inform your close contacts of your positive test and update your COVID alert app.
You may experience a range of symptoms from mild to severe depending on your other medical conditions. Drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy and get lots of rest. If needed, use over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed on the bottle for relief of symptoms like fever and aches and pains. Continue taking any prescription medications.
If you have questions or would like to speak to a healthcare provider, arrange a virtual visit with you family doctor or primary healthcare provider. You can also call HealthLine 811 for advice.
* You must self-isolate until you’ve been cleared by Public Health. Self-Isolation means you need to STAY HOME and:
Q: At what point should I go to the hospital for treatment?
A: If you are having difficulty breathing, severe vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue, you should seek medical attention. Anyone with COVID-19 can arrange a virtual visit with their family doctor or primary healthcare provider or call HealthLine 811 for advice. If you are experiencing significant distress, lose consciousness or your symptoms worsen significantly, you or someone in your household should call 911 or take you to the emergency department.
Note: Hospitals and emergency departments follow strict protocols to keep you safe. Health care is still available for other health conditions, so do not avoid seeking care for other significant health concerns.
Q: If I present to the emergency department, at what point should I inform the staff that I’m COVID-19 positive?
A: On arrival at the hospital, you will be asked a series of questions. Identify yourself as being COVID-19 positive immediately.
Q: What happens next?
A: Once you’ve made emergency staff aware of your COVID-19 diagnosis, you will undergo triage, where you will be asked a series of questions, have your vital signs taken and be given a brief exam. You will be seen in priority based on the severity of your condition. Please follow all directions while waiting for further assessment and care.
Q: What is the clinical progression of the disease and how is it treated?
A: Disease progression varies between patients. While age and the presence of other medical conditions can have an impact, who develops a severe disease is not predictable. Quite often patients need oxygen as the disease progresses. When this happens, a medication called dexamethasone has been shown to be helpful for some patients. Otherwise the treatment of COVID-19 is supportive, which means there is no cure but you will be provided treatments such as intravenous fluids, medications and physiotherapy to improve symptoms and treat complications that may arise.
Q: At what point are patients put on a ventilator?
A: This happens when the illness has worsened and progressed to the point that a patient's lungs and body can no longer safely do their job independently and require help. This occurs in only a small number of patients infected with COVID-19.
Q: For how long are patients put on a ventilator?
A: This varies between patients. Being on a ventilator indicates severe disease and means that a patient’s situation is life-threatening. Those who survive often require support in the intensive care unit for several weeks, followed by further recovery on a general care ward.
Q: What is the role of antibiotics in treating COVID-19?
A: COVID-19 is caused by a virus, which means that antibiotics will not treat this infection. Sometimes the viral infection can weaken the body and lead to bacterial infections. If this happens, antibiotics would be needed to help fight the bacterial infection.
Q: What is Remdesivir and how is it used?
A: This is an antiviral medication that has been in the media lately. It has not been shown to prevent death from COVID-19 and is not currently recommended as a treatment.
Q: What is plasma and how is it used?
A: Convalescent plasma is an intravenous injection of blood product containing antibodies to COVID-19 from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Studies are still ongoing and it is not currently recommended for treatment in most cases.
Q: What else do I need to know about COVID-19?
A: Prevention should be everyone’s first goal. COVID-19 is a new virus and our bodies react in different ways to the infection. Treatment of the infection is the last line of defense against the disease and while treatment can help many who contract the disease, not all will survive. Prevention will not only protect your health but also preserve our healthcare system at this critical time.
If you can avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 that is your best defence against the disease.
To prevent becoming infected:
Wear a mask.Wash your hands. Maintain physical distancing.Keep your bubble small.Stay home if sick.Get tested.Follow public health orders.Anticipate situations that put you at risk and avoid them.