Coronavirus can spread faster and more widely within households than previously estimated. In fact, 51 per cent of people living with someone who was positive for COVID-19 also became infected. This is according to the preliminary findings from the ongoing research which assessed 101 houses in the US that were published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Also Read – Coronavirus symptoms: COVID toes can last for up to six months
Transmission of the virus within households can originate from both children and adults, it said. Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 81,84,082 while death toll reaches 1,22,111
The researchers observed that after a first household member became sick, the infection spread rapidly in the household, regardless of whether the first infected household member was a child or an adult. They found that at least 75 per cent of the secondary household infections occurred within five days of the first person in the household experiencing symptoms. Also Read – Myocarditis linked to COVID-19 may not be as common as believed
However, less than half of household members experienced symptoms when they first tested positive, and many reported no symptoms throughout the seven-day daily follow-up period.
Therefore, the researchers recommend prompt adoption of isolation measures as soon as a person feels ill to reduce the probability of household transmission.
How to curb household transmission of COVID-19
Household transmission is believed to be a major driver of the COVID-19 pandemic. Available data also suggests that most of the person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus has occurred in families.
Most people with COVID-19 don’t need hospital care and are advised to self-isolate at home. Here are a few important infection prevention steps that can prevent the rest of the household from catching the virus.
If you suspect that you might have COVID-19, isolate, stay at home, and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if feasible.
“Isolation should begin before seeking testing, and before test results become available because delaying isolation until confirmation of infection could miss an opportunity to reduce transmission to others,” the researchers of the new study wrote in their paper.
It’s especially important for elderly family members or people with compromised immune systems to keep their distance from the infected person.
As far as possible keep the door to the infected person’s room closed to minimize the movement of contaminated air into the rest of the house. Everyone in the household — including the COVID-19 patient— should practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.
The World Health Organisation recommends the infected person wear a mask as much as possible to reduce the number of infectious particles in the air. Caregivers are also advised to wear a mask when entering the infected person’s room and wear gloves while handling utensils the COVID-positive person has used.
Can face masks help curb household transmission rates?
Wearing face masks at home might help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among family members living in the same household, but only before symptoms develop, said Chinese researchers.
In a study involving Chinese families in Beijing, researchers found that daily use of disinfectants, window opening, and keeping at least 1 meter apart were associated with a lower risk of secondary transmission (spread from the first infected person to other family members), even in more crowded households.
While wearing a face mask at home before the first infected person develops symptoms helped reduced the risk of viral transmission, this safety precaution has little effect after the start of the symptoms.
In addition, the study that was accepted for publication in BMJ Global Health found that diarrhoea in the first person was associated with a significant increase in the risk of household transmission.
Also, close daily contact, such as eating meals or watching TV together, was associated with an 18-fold increased risk.
Nevertheless, the study supports universal face mask use, not just in public spaces, but also at home.
With inputs from agencies
Published : November 1, 2020 10:15 am