Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday announced almost total lockdown for the country for the next two week period and said that those over 70 and those at high risk of catching the coronavirus should be ‘cocooned’ until April 12.
Last night, the HSE released a document detailing exactly what this means and how to best implement it.
But what is cocooning?
According to the document, cocooning is a measure to protect those over 70 years or those extremely medically vulnerable by minimising interaction between them and others.
Those people “should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.”
This is in an effort to protect them from contracting COVID-19.
Who is “extremely vulnerable” to catching the virus?
According to the HSE, extremely vulnerable includes:
“If you are over 70 years of age or have an underlying medical condition listed above, you are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of COVID-19,” the document states.
“You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of two weeks."
Visits should only continue from people who provide “essential support”, such as healthcare, personal support with daily needs or social care should continue. However, carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
All people coming to your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often whilst they are there
An alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell should be drawn up.
If you have someone else living with you, they are not required to adopt these protective cocooning measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support you in cocooning and they should follow guidance on physical distancing, reducing their contact outside the home.
They should wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, especially upon arrival home and observe good respiratory etiquette at all times
There are also face-to-face distancing measures that should be followed within the home for those who are being cocooned.
What exactly does face-to-face distancing mean?
What should you do if you are being cocooned but the other people in your house are not?
What about visitors?
Regular visitors should be contacted and informed that you are cocooning and that they should not visit. Essential visitors only are allowed, those who help with washing, dressing, or feeding.
For informal carers, only essential care should be provided.
This advice also applies to those over 70 years of age or extremely medically vulnerable persons living in long-term care facilities. Care providers should carefully discuss advice with families, carers and specialist doctors.