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Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its collaborating partners have played a major role in coming out with preventive and mitigation measures against the spread of the COVID-19.

So far, COVID-19 has infected over 300,000 people globally, with over 8,000 deaths and Ghana recording 152 cases with five deaths. The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo has instituted some protocols to be followed with a plea for strict adherence.

Among the protocols is the need for self-quarantine. What then is self-quarantine? It is a transparent self-restriction of person’s activities when they are ill or not feeling too well, for the purpose of protecting other members of the community from contracting the disease.

It also facilitates early detection of the disease for rapid implementation of response measures and therefore helps to prevent the spread of the disease to close friends, relatives and community members. This is particularly important for persons who are classified as close contacts in the case of a confirmed COVID 19 case.

What does close contact mean? Close contacts are individuals who have been in proximity of less than one meter (3.3ft) to a confirmed case from two days prior to symptom onset of the case and as long as the person is symptomatic.

Close contacts are required to stay at their homes, hotel room or any identified accommodation without mixing with the general public or family members for 14 days since the last contact with the confirmed case.

Who should be self-quarantined? Travelers coming from countries, territories or areas with active transmission of COVID 19 as analyzed and designated by the Ministry of Health (MoH)/Ghana Health Service shall be in self-quarantine for 14 days.

Any individual who has been in close contact with a person confirmed to be having coronavirus disease should be self-quarantined for 14 days since the last contact with the confirmed case.

How will one be monitored during self-quarantine? For purposes of self-quarantine, you are required to provide your name, physical address and telephone contact to contact tracing team. These details will guide the surveillance teams in monitoring you while under self-quarantine.

Do family members or other people you live with also need self-quarantine? Other members of the household are not required to self-quarantine unless they meet the criteria for self-quarantine as provided by the GHS.

However, if you develop signs and symptoms of COVID 19, members of your household may be classified as close contacts depending on your interaction with them and will be required to self-quarantine. It is therefore important to implement effective self-quarantine.

What should you do for effective self-quarantine? Stay in an airy room away from other people such as family members preferably with separate bathroom and toilet facilities, and if you share the same bathroom and toilet facilities, ensure you disinfect it after use using regular household disinfectant or soap and water.

Ensure that you have adequate food, water, hygiene provisions like toiletries, handwashing facilities, hand sanitizers, etc. and appropriate medical treatment for existing medical conditions while in self-quarantine.

Always wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and cover your nose and mouth with a single use tissue when coughing and sneezing as you throw away used tissue immediately into a dustbin and wash your hands immediately with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, beside tables, bedframes and other bedroom furniture daily with regular household disinfectant, and clean and disinfect bathroom and toilet surfaces at least once a day with regular household disinfectant.

If you develop symptoms of acute respiratory infections including fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing, please call for immediate help on the following telephone numbers 050 949 7700 and 055 843 9868.

What should you do to keep your spirit up while in self-quarantine? Being under quarantine can be frightening. However, you can do the following to reduce anxiety: talk to the other members of the family on mobile phones if possible, about the COVID 19 since understanding the disease will reduce anxiety.

Reassure young children using age-appropriate language, ensure that you drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep hydrated, exercise regularly from your quarantine area, eat all your meals in a timely manner and think about how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too.

What happens if you develop symptoms during the 14 days of self-quarantine? If at any time during your 14 days of self-quarantine without any symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing), you should seek medical attention immediately by calling your designated surveillance officer.

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