How to manage COVID at home

Caring for people at home. Image source: Depositphotos

The local health system is straining under the load of the current high level of COVID infections in the community. To help manage the crisis NSW Health has published advice on how to deal with the sickness at home.

CCN has sourced this official information from the NSW Health website. Information was accurate as of January 5, 2021. Readers should note that advice may change rapidly, please check for the latest updates to these policies.

You must self-isolate for 7 days from the day you were tested. You can only leave self-isolation after 7 days if you do not have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. You will receive an SMS from NSW Health after 7 days, but you do not have to wait for this SMS to leave self-isolation if it has been 7 days since you were tested.

NSW Health advice

Most people can manage COVID-19 at home, with some simple advice. If you are under 65 years of age (previously under 50 years of age), have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, do not suffer from any chronic conditions and are not pregnant you can safely manage COVID-19 at home.

There are certain people who can manage COVID-19 safely at their home. This includes if you:

  • are under 65 years of age
  • are not pregnant
  • have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and
  • do not suffer from any chronic conditions.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are pregnant, please call the NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933official guide for pregnant women can be found here.

If you do have chronic health conditions If you have a chronic condition, including, obesity, severe chronic or complex medical conditions (including cardiac, respiratory, renal or neurodevelopmental), diabetes, immunocompromised including malignancy or severe mental illness please call the NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933 for further medical assistance in managing COVID-19.

Common symptoms and remedies

While you are self-isolating at home, it is important you check how you are feeling and reach out for help if you need it.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you are likely to experience:

  • fever
  • runny or blocked nose
  • change in taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea

A lot of these symptoms can be relieved by simple remedies including:

  • bed rest
  • regular paracetamol and ibuprofen to relieve pain and fevers
  • throat lozenges for a sore throat
  • keeping hydrated with regular sips of water
  • cough medicine such as Bisolvin.

Some more detailed suggestions on managing the common COVID-19 symptoms:

Common symptomSuggested remedy
CoughBreathe in steam using a humidifier or vaporizer if you have one, or try a warm shower. This helps soothe a sore throat, open your airways and make it easier to breathe. Sip on fluids throughout the day.Avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead. Raise your head when sleeping using extra pillows. This helps with breathing and clears any mucous from your chest.If you are coughing up mucous, it is important to continue to do this. It lowers the chance of chest infections and helps you breathe more easily.
Nausea (feeling sick), vomiting or diarrhoea (runny poo)Eat plain, low fibre foods that are not spicy. This includes white rice, pasta and white bread.Have small meals often. Have 6 smaller meals in the day instead of 3 big meals.Do not drink alcohol or drinks with caffeine such as tea, coffee and colas.Sip on clear fluids such as water during the day. This will help you to stay hydrated. Drink enough fluids so that your urine is light yellow in colour and clear.
Take paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) as directed.Put a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead.Wipe your arms and body with a cool cloth.

If you have symptoms or concerns at any time while you are self-isolating you should call your GP, Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or the NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933.

Have a support person

Contact a family member or friend and tell them you have COVID-19. Ask them to contact you daily at agreed times so they know you are okay.

This support person will help keep you safe, but cannot visit you in person.

Caring for your child at home

Most children who test positive for COVID-19 can be safely cared for at home by their usual household carers, even if they are not vaccinated.

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Caring for children at home. Image: depositphotos

When caring for your child with COVID-19 at home, you should:

  • Dress your child in appropriate clothing, so that they are comfortable – not sweating or shivering.
  • Give your child plenty of fluids to drink. They may not feel like drinking much so will need your help and encouragement.
  • Encourage them to rest and not overdo it.
  • Use paracetamol (Panadol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen), only if you think your child is in pain or appears uncomfortable with a fever. Do not to give more of these medicines than is allowed in a 24-hour period, as this may be harmful for children (see instructions on the label).
  • Watch your child for signs that their illness is getting worse.

Monitor your child’s condition and call your GP or NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933 (8.30 am – 8.30 pm ) or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 ( 24/7) if you notice any of the following:

  • prolonged fever (more than 5 days)
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • severe or worsening abdominal pain
  • frequent vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • oral intake or urine output that is less than half of normal
  • drowsiness, sleepiness or irritability.

If you are concerned that your child is seriously unwell, has difficulty breathing, is severely dehydrated or is fainting, please call Triple Zero (000) immediately and inform the operator that your child has COVID-19

Ensure all family members wear a mask when the ambulance arrives.

Paramedics will attend to commence care and take your child to the Emergency Department. An ambulance is the safest way to get to the hospital from isolating at home.

Self-isolation is tough for everyone, but especially children. Consider the below tips to help your child cope with self-isolation while they are COVID-19 positive:

  • Try to maintain a daily routine as much as possible, particularly around sleep and meal times.
  • Ensure children enjoy some physical activity daily.
  • Provide them with healthy meals and snacks and plenty of fluids.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you about COVID-19 and how they are feeling.
  • Reassure your child using age-appropriate language.
  • Make time for fun activities.
  • Keep in touch with family and friends using the phone, iPad, e-mail or social media.

Other resources

These resources provide up-to-date information on COVID-19:

  • NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933
  • Service NSW COVID-19 support line on 13 77 88 (7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday)
  • NSW Government website

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