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Caring for someone with COVID-19

5-minute read

If you develop symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19, there are things you can do to avoid being infected, and to keep the rest of your household healthy.

How should I prepare my home for if a family member or housemate gets COVID-19?

The person with COVID-19 should have a separate, well-ventilated room where they can sleep alone. They should have access to a separate bathroom if it’s available. If they can’t isolate in a separate room, they should avoid sharing spaces — such as the kitchen — as much as possible.

Shared spaces should have good air flow, such as through an air conditioner or open windows (weather permitting).

Ensure you have enough masks, since you’ll need to wear one when moving through shared areas.

You’ll need cleaning products, including detergent and disinfectant, and disposable gloves, to wipe down frequently touched surfaces often. Buy a disinfectant that's labelled 'hospital-grade' which kills viruses. You can also use a chlorine-based product such as bleach.

Throughout your home provide easy access to tissues, lined bins and soap or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Because you’ll need to avoid sharing kitchen items with the person with COVID-19, consider labelling them.

To make cleaning as easy as possible, consider reducing clutter in the home.

How do I care for someone with COVID-19 in my home?

Follow these tips to help ease the person’s symptoms and stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • The person with COVID-19 needs to isolate at home and not go out other than to get medical care. They shouldn’t go to work, school or public areas, or use public transport or taxis.

  • Call ahead before visiting doctors or health clinics to tell them that the person has COVID-19.

  • The person should wear a mask when in the same room as people who don’t have COVID-19. They should wear a face mask if they need to go out in public, such as to seek healthcare.

  • When you are in the person’s room, wear a single-use surgical mask and disposable gloves. This is especially important if you have contact with their body fluids or secretions, or blood. Throw out masks and gloves after use.

  • Clean all 'high-touch' surfaces daily, such as kitchen counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards and other devices.

  • Don’t share dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with the person who has COVID-19. After using these items, wash them thoroughly using the hottest possible setting.

  • Restrict visitors who don’t have an essential need to be in the home.

  • Keep vulnerable people, such as older people and those with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions, away from the person. This includes people with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

  • The person should cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing and throw used tissues in a lined rubbish bin. They should wash their hands immediately.

  • Everyone in the household should wash their hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available (and if hands are not visibly dirty). Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Seek medical attention straight away if the person’s illness gets worse.

ANTIVIRAL ELIGIBILITY — Use the COVID-19 Symptom and Antiviral Eligibility Checker to find out if you may be eligible for antiviral medication.

Learn more about managing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms at home.

Related topics

Preparing for COVID

Preparing for COVID

Use this checklist to prepare a kit that will help you manage your COVID-19 symptoms at home, should you become infected.

How to isolate or quarantine

How to isolate or quarantine

Isolation and quarantine help protect you by preventing exposure to people who have, or may have, COVID-19. Follow these steps if you’re a close contact or have COVID.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2022

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