You test positive for COVID-19. What now?
Updated May 22nd, 2021.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya BSc (Hons) MBBS PGCert (MedEd)
With the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the country, it is more likely than ever that we have either interacted with or know of a person who has been tested positive for COVID-19. And if we’re feeling a little temperature or a sore throat, our next thought tends to be “Should I take a PCR test?”. With the amount of ambiguity and daily change of regulations, we, at oDoc, want to keep you informed and updated with the latest news regarding COVID-19 processes in Sri Lanka.
What should you do after finding out you’ve been tested positive for COVID-19?
Contacting your local PHI
You can find out who your local PHI is from this website (On the navigation bar at the top, click ‘Find PHI’ and fill in your area details) The lab or hospital where you were tested for COVID-19 will also inform your local PHI and Ministry of Health.
Things you should keep in mind for your conversation with the PHI officer:
- COVID-19 symptoms
- How long you’ve been having these symptoms
- Any known medical illnesses (i.e. asthma, diabetes, etc)
- Any medications taken for known illnesses or after becoming COVID positive
- Any allergies
- Any previous surgeries
- If you’re a smoker or not
- People you have been in contact with over the last few days
- Have an emergency contact number of a family member/friend
To reduce the burden on hospitals and COVID-19 care centers, the Ministry of Health has introduced the option of low risk COVID-19 patients isolating in their homes. If the Ministry of Health gives you the option of home quarantine and you agree to that option, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Remain in a separated well-ventilated room.
- Avoid contact with others as much as possible. Identify one family member who is low risk to be in contact with you. Wear a surgical mask and wash hands before coming into contact with anyone else.
- Do not share washrooms if possible. If sharing, you should disinfect the washroom after each use.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Stop smoking.
- Do not routinely take antibiotics or steroid medication. Only take medication prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
- Have warm fluids frequently such as tea, kothamalli, jeewani
- Steam inhalation – only for symptomatic relief and always ensure safety
- Keep track of any new or worsening symptoms – If possible, keep a check on your basic vitals – temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate (count the number of breaths per minute), blood pressure and oxygen saturation.
- You should use separate cutlery, plates, dishes and bedding from the rest of the household members.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often.
- Keep your bed linen and clothes in a laundry bag separate from others.
- All household members should remain at home and avoid any contact with people who don’t live in the same household.
- No visitors should be allowed during the home isolation period.
- Call 1990 if you have any difficulty breathing, chest pain or loss of speech/mobility.
- Keep emergency contact numbers close by.
How will you be accessed during home isolation?
The PHI will keep a check on you while you’re at home. You can choose to do audio or video consultations with a GP. You must inform your PHI or MoH on your choice of doctor. Taking care of your mental health during this period of isolation is also important and can help in making you feel better, so consider speaking to a mental health professional during this time as well.
During your home isolation period, you can purchase Home Care with oDoc. Here’s what you have access to:
- A dedicated doctor assigned to you to virtually monitor your symptoms for 14 days
- A Pulse Oximeter and Blood Pressure Meter (both NMRA approved) to be sent to your home
- At-home PCR testing by our lab team, oLabs
- A Wellness Package of masks, gloves, sanitizer, and a box of Panadol to be sent to your home.
A minimum of 14 days is required for the home isolation period. The Ministry of Health and your doctor will make the decision on when you should stop the home isolation period. This will depend on your symptoms and how many days have passed since the onset of symptoms. If the MoH decides you can remove yourself from isolation, it is still recommended that you quarantine at home for a further 14 days.
Government/Private Care Centers
If the PHI/MoH decides that you need to be treated at a hospital or care center, there are options to stay in a government care center for free or a private care center for a fee. If you choose to quarantine at a private care center, you can find all the information on space availability, rates and medical support here.
You may have to remain at home before a bed becomes available at a COVID care center. If you need to remain at home for a few days, please follow the above guidelines. Your local PHI will transfer you to an Intermediate COVID care center when a bed becomes available to you.
Discharge Process at Care Centers
The length of quarantine and discharge process is different for each person who has been tested positive for COVID-19. This depends on the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, the cycle threshold value of the initial PCR test done on admission (more information here) and the clinical fitness of the patient.
Currently, the length of quarantine and discharge policy at care centers are as follows for most patients.
- If you are positive for COVID but don’t show any symptoms and are not in a high-risk category, you will be sent to an ICC. You will be discharged from this center after 10 days and will be required to home quarantine for 4 days.
- If you are positive but show mild to moderate symptoms and are not in a high-risk category, you will be sent to an ICC. You will be discharged from this center after 14 days.
- If you are positive with severe symptoms, you will be sent to a COVID-19 hospital and will be kept there for 3 weeks or more depending on how severe the symptoms get. You will only be discharged after a negative RT-PCR test.
- If you have been placed in a quarantine center through contact tracing after a close associate of yours was tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to remain in quarantine for 14 days. You will only be discharged if you test negative on a RT-PCR test.
Please keep in mind, this process can change due to the rise in COVID-19 patients and can also vary between patients depending on their condition.
How long after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 can you take the vaccine?
If you’ve had a mild/moderate version of COVID-19, you can take the vaccine 2 weeks after recovery. If you’ve had a severe form of the disease AND received monoclonal antibody/plasma therapy as part of your treatment, you will have to wait at least 1 month before vaccination.
We will continue to update this article if and when regulations change so keep checking this space for any COVID-19 related news in Sri Lanka.
If you would like to read more about the SinoPharm and Sputnik vaccines, read more here.
If you or a loved one would like further advice on COVID-19 symptoms, consult with our on-demand GPs who are available 24/7. You can download oDoc here.
- Guidance of Home Management by COVID-19 patients, Primary Care Physicians of Sri Lanka, May 2021. (subject to change)