What To Do if Your Flatmate Has Coronavirus
What should you do if your flatmate has coronavirus or is self-isolating? First things first, try not to panic. If their case is confirmed, you should seek advice from the NHS Coronavirus phone service on 111 on what to do next and consider suitable alternative accommodation for a few weeks.
If you live with someone who is self-isolating, though doesn’t necessarily have the virus, it is important to still call the phone service for advice. With any airborne virus, there is a chance you might catch it in any place at any time, so good hygiene practice is crucial along with other measures that can help to reduce the risk of transmission at home, at work, and beyond.
Now that there is more robust information on living with someone in self-isolation, we’ve gathered all the facts and tips we can find in one handy guide that we will seek to update regularly as government advice emerges. If you’re in direct contact with your flatmate and suspect you might have coronavirus, call the 111 coronavirus helpline via the NHS for more information.
Government advice is to:
- Wash your hands thoroughly at least every hour with hot water and soap for a minimum of twenty seconds.
- Use antibacterial gel when you can’t get near a sink. Best to have multiple areas that have antibacterial gel nearby.
- When coughing or sneezing, catch this within a tissue and dispose of it immediately. If you have no tissue to hand, coughing and sneezing into your elbow is next best. Wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- Maintain 2 metres apart where possible (Use mask if unable)
Official advice encourages that you ought to minimise direct contact with any self-isolating person – direct contact is constituted as within 2 metres of person for more than 15 minutes.
Sharing the Bathroom
Current advice has outlined that any self-isolating person ought to have their own bathroom for their sole use. Coronavirus can stay on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours so if this isn’t possible, it is advised to thoroughly clean the bathroom each time someone is done using it, ensuring that they thoroughly disinfect key surfaces every time after use. – door handles, taps, shower head, toilet flush, light switch – using a good anti-bacterial spray or germ killer and paper, like thick kitchen roll, that can be disposed of.
If there is usually a queue for the bathroom in the morning, make sure the last person to use it is the person who tested positive for COVID. Perhaps come up with a bathroom rota to ensure this routine is continued. Where possible, ensure good ventilation via an open window or extractor fan to displace COVID particles. Research has shown that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection from particles by over 70%. You should also avoid sharing towels and consider keeping your toiletries in your bedroom to minimise shared surface contact.
Sharing the Kitchen
In general, it is advised that you try to avoid shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible. Try to keep meal times simple and minimise time spent with your fellow flatmates by eating in your bedroom. Now is a good time to up antiviral food and beverages such as garlic, ginger, echinacea, common kitchen herbs and plenty of green tea! As with the bathroom, ensure handles of appliances and counter surfaces are kept clean and consider allocating specific cutlery that each person can be responsible for cleaning and using during this period. Even if there is little washing to do, it is advised that you still use your dishwasher, if you have one, to clean dishes and cutlery. Advice also indicates that you should regularly wash and change tea towels or use disposable kitchen roll when you are drying your hands.
Well, what an excuse for a takeaway! Many delivery services, including groceries, are offering to leave orders at the door to minimise person-to-person contact and helps you to avoid heading to crowded supermarkets. It is recommended that if you want to do online food shopping, that you do this as soon as possible as there can be long wait times to book a delivery slot. And if you do get a takeaway, consider the option of paying by card to avoid any unnecessary contact. Some delivery services are only accepting card payments at the moment to give their customers that sense of safety.
Disposing of Waste
It is important to refer to official government information via the NHS helpline regarding the disposal of waste though if you are unsure in the meantime, double bag all waste until you have more details on how to dispose of this safely.
If you need to throw away used face coverings or PPE, such as gloves you need to dispose of them in your ‘black bag’ waste bin at home or at work. Do not put them in a recycling bin. Disposing of PPE does not require you to double bag.
Overall, it is suggested that visitors do not stop by at all during the period of isolation. Should visitors need to stop by you can place antibacterial gel in common areas to ensure clean hands, or ask them to leave anything they need to on the doorstep.
Wow, imagine how your flatmate must be feeling during self-isolation. In the spirit of comradeship, there are a few things you could consider to support and cheer them at this time, including:
- Building a shared spotify playlist of excellent tunes.
- Buy them a separate kettle or toaster to keep in their room.
- Recommending good films and books. (Maybe give your pal access to your Netflix?)
- Leaving surprise chocolate and gifts in their doorway.
- Creating a groupchat for if they need anything like food, meds, or just someone to spam to with cat videos.
- Just constant communication (socially distanced) can ensure an upbeat feeling about isolation