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A medical mask is pinned to a pink board with the words 'DON'T PANIC' above.
Photograph: Unsplash/Tonik

Caring for Covid at home: how to build your own home care kit

Worried about getting Covid-19? Here's what you need at home to be prepared

Written by
Lacey-Jade Christie
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The following article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Lacey-Jade Christie is a regular contributor to Time Out Melbourne and a trained nurse. For more information on the latest government advice on Covid-19, click here.

With Covid-19 case numbers on the rise, it’s important to be prepared. But in 2022, being prepared is more than wearing a mask, social distancing and hand hygiene – it also means having a Covid home care kit ready, just in case.

The unfortunate reality for many, especially those living in metropolitan areas, is that we may all be directly affected by Covid at some point. Fortunately, thanks to high vaccination rates, the majority of people diagnosed with Covid-19 will be able to isolate and recover in the comfort of their own homes.

If you return a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or a positive Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR) and have been instructed to isolate at home, there are a few things that can help you manage your symptoms safely.

Here's what your Covid home care kit should include:

Pain relief

Make sure you have paracetamol (eg Panadol) and ibuprofen (eg Neurofen) on hand to help reduce any fevers and body aches – as well as a two-week supply of any regular medications. If you find yourself without access to your medications or have run out, speak to your GP or pharmacist about having them delivered. 

Hydration

Water is essential, but as Covid often comes with fevers and chills you might want to add a few more methods of hydration to your home care kit. Electrolyte supplements and ice blocks are a great place to start, especially if you are sweating. 

Food

You maybe be isolated for up to two weeks, so make sure you have a variety of non-perishable foods available. You can also arrange delivery to your door (even in apartment buildings) via Coles and Woolworths if you run out of supplies. You can help your delivery driver out by minimising any contact and requesting they leave your order at your door.

Pulse Oximeter

While not 100 per cent necessary, a pulse oximeter can help you keep track of your blood oxygenation – which can be particularly useful if you experience worsening symptoms or need to provide information to your health care professional. Pulse oximeters can be purchased from your local pharmacy for around $50. 

Thermometer

Knowing your temperature is helpful, again for your healthcare professionals, but also so you know when you need to top up on paracetamol (tip: when your temp exceeds 38 degrees celsius).

RATs

Although RATs are hard to come by right now, they're a great addition to your home care kit. If you are still experiencing Covid-19 symptoms on day 12 of isolation, you’ll need a negative PCR or RAT in order to leave home isolation. If you’re on the hunt for a RAT, the Find a RAT website provides real-time information about where to find a test in your area. 

Entertainment

At the time of writing, people who test positive for Covid-19 are required to isolate for a minimum of seven days – which means you might need more activities than just napping. Colouring books, streaming services, puzzles or learning a language online are great ways to keep your brain active. 

Knowledge

With more and more cases every day and a healthcare system struggling to provide one-on-one information to every Covid positive person, it’s important to know both your isolation requirements and the symptoms that may indicate a need for medical attention. You can find the Australian Government’s test and isolate protocols on their website and more information about when to contact your healthcare provider on the Health Direct website.

Has it been four months since your last vax? You may be eligible for your Covid-19 booster shot. Find out how to get yours.

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