2 December 2020
Chatting with the taxi driver, talking at the grocery store and to neighbours, we always hear questions and worries regarding Home Quarantine. Quarantine, regardless of where this takes place, is compulsory for any new arrivals to St Helena to protect the Island and reduce the risk that COVID-19 reaches St Helena. Quarantine is effective and has been done since medieval times. Home Quarantine is used in most parts of the world and is considered an effective method of quarantine.
Remember, passengers are tested on arrival at St Helena Airport for COVID-19. This initial test on arrival allows us to identify and manage any COVID-19 cases at a very early stage. Individuals are only released from quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 after the 14 days.
This is also why we insist on a minimum distance of 5 metres from the property used for Home Quarantine to the next possible neighbour. It is already well known that a distance of two meters (2m) is enough to be safe from a possible infection spread (Dr David Nabarro – WHO, UK). So if you live or stay nearby a property being used for Home Quarantine there is no risk or danger of getting any infection as long as distancing is maintained.
Other questions and myths:
“Does this mean I can’t go outside at all if I am in Home Quarantine?”
Home Quarantine on St Helena means you are legally required to stay in your home and avoid mixing with the community.
You are allowed to leave your house to walk to the drop-off point within the boundary of your property to collect groceries, food, medicines or anything else that is delivered to your house drop-off point. It is recommended that you wear a face covering, covering your mouth and nose, when doing this – the proper officer will provide guidance on this.
You must not go beyond the 5 metre boundary of your property for any reason during your quarantine period.
“Can the coronavirus survive in hot and humid climates?”
Yes. It is a common myth that COVID-19 cannot survive in hot temperatures. This is simply not correct. Likewise, COVID-19 cannot be prevented by taking a hot bath, ultraviolet lamps, or using hand dryers.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that from the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather.
The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this, you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
“COVID-19 can be transmitted through houseflies”
To date, there is no evidence or information to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through houseflies. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.
“Catching COVID-19 means you will have it for life”
No! Most of the people who become infected with COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If, during quarantine, you develop a cough, fever, and/or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early by calling the hospital and stating that you are in quarantine. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
“Our elderly population on St Helena is especially at risk!”
People of all ages, older and younger, can be infected by the COVID-19 virus.
Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as uncontrolled asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand and respiratory hygiene.
“Do Antibiotics prevent or treat COVID-19?”
Antibiotics work only against bacteria, not viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and therefore antibiotics should not be used for prevention or treatment.
Quarantine remains our primary method in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and is still our first line of defence in protecting the Island. This can only be successful if people in quarantine do not leave Bradley’s or their homes during their quarantine period. Likewise, people on-Island must not visit those in quarantine and must keep their distance.
For more information on Home Quarantine, and COVID-19 in general please, visit our online media resource centre (https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/coronavirus-covid-19/) where you are able to download posters and infographics. Also listen out for radio interviews and view posters in key locations around the Island.
SHG Health Directorate
2 December 2020