Nova Scotia

What to do if you're home sick with COVID-19

The World Health Organization expects 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases to be "mild," with individuals recovering at home. Here’s some basic information on how to treat the illness if you don’t need direct medical care.

World Health Organization expects 80% of COVID-19 cases to be 'mild,' with individuals recovering at home

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the seasonal flu or a common cold, and can include fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs. (Roberto Pfeil/The Associated Press)

Public health officials expect more Canadians to become ill with COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months, and while hospitals prepare to respond to the sickest patients, most individuals are likely to recover at home.

Eighty per cent of cases are expected to be "mild," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Here's some basic information about how to treat the illness at home if you don't need emergency medical care.

The early symptoms of the disease are similar to a common cold or seasonal flu, and can include fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs.

Here's the World Health Organization's list of symptoms. (World Health Organization)

Check with your provincial health authority about testing, as recommended. Many are offering online assessment tools to use before phoning.

What medication to take

Researchers are looking for effective anti-virals to prevent and treat COVID-19, but so far no specific medicines are recommended by WHO.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce fever, and Health Canada recommends either

There have been conflicting reports about the use of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories since French Health Minister Olivier Véran, also a neurologist, tweeted that it may worsen a COVID-19 infection, but WHO said there is no evidence to support that.

Health Canada recommends checking with a health-care provider before taking any other non-prescription medications.

Items one should keep in their house are:

  • A thermometer.
  • Disposable tissues.
  • One's usual prescription drugs.
  • Plenty of drinking water.

Caring for others

Health Canada recommends one healthy caregiver per sick person. The health agency says at-home caregivers should limit contact with the sick, protect themselves with equipment and good hygiene and cleaning practices, and monitor themselves for symptoms.

The federal government recomments that some supplies to have when caring for someone with COVID-19 are:

  • Single-use face masks.
  • Eye protection.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Disposable paper towels.
  • Waste container with plastic liner.
  • Running water.
  • Hand soap.
  • Alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Dish soap.
  • Regular laundry soap.
  • Regular household cleaning products.
  • Bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and a separate container for dilution (one part bleach to nine parts water).
  • Alcohol prep wipes.

Seeking medical help

If your symptoms become unmanageable, call your provincial health authority, or 911 in an emergency.