Receiving a notification that you are close contact of a COVID-19 positive person is a situation more and more of us will be facing as the Omicron wave, currently just lapping at our toes, surges.
Kylie Henderson was caught up in a full 14-day isolation as a close contact back in January, when a work colleague tested positive and shares her experience and advice.
“I was surprised that I was considered a close contact!” said Kylie. “One of my employees tested positive and I could not believe my ten minute conversation with her — both of us wearing masks and appropriately distanced — was enough to have me made a close contact.
“I was isolated just after Australia Day, so the close contact definition was 1 minute without a mask, or 5 minutes with a mask.”
Under current rules, should this situation be replicated, Kylie would not have been required to isolate at all. Unlike the rest of us, who currently do have time to put plans in place should we need to isolate, Kylie was definitely caught off-guard.
“There was no preparation time – the isolation was effective immediately,” she said. “I am lucky to have partner who could assist with shopping etc, and we could utilise online shopping.”
Current recommendations are to maintain a week’s supply of essential food and household items should you be unable to leave home or receive deliveries. The person who writes the current recommendations has perhaps not seen our supermarket shelves lately!
In regards to the practicalities of isolating, Kylie says, “You ideally need a separate bedroom with ensuite so that you can effectively self-isolate.
“We currently have staff off who have had COVID themselves, now their children or partners do and they are once again isolated as a close contact so are off work for weeks!”
For those without a second bathroom or toilet, masks should be worn by all members of the household when moving through these areas and they should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after a COVID-positive person has used it.
Kylie also says, “Have a plan for childcare – who is going to do pick ups/drop offs etc, regardless of the ages. The logistics of getting a child to school out of area, on a route not covered by public transport were challenging.
Being home but not able to interact with your family can be difficult, especially with younger children who don’t understand why you ‘won’t’ play with them. And navigating this landscape with teenagers can be testing!
“Being stuck in one room when you can hear your teenagers fighting in the lounge room and you want them to stop was certainly a challenge!” laughs Kylie. “But I did miss our family time.
“On the plus side, I am fortunate and could work from home, so no loss of income or need to access sick or annual leave.
“I had a great excuse to binge watch some TV – I’ve certainly caught up on my favourite Netflix and Stan. Streaming services are definitely not optional or a luxury in this situation!”