< Vulnerables

What should I do when I need to visit a vulnerable person?

Text updated on 2021-05-03

Vulnerable persons, such as the elderly, may receive visits from their relatives, provided that appropriate behaviours are adopted to prevent the risk of contamination.

Elderly people ( >65 years of age) are 50% more likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 than younger adults, and symptoms are often more severe. The same is true for people with signs of co-morbidity such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, or immunosuppression.

In order not to contaminate the vulnerable person during your visit, consider the following measures for interacting with them:

o Keep a distance of more than 1-2 metres.

o Wash your hands.

o Wear a well-sealed mask.

o Do not raise your voice, turn your head and use your elbow to cough or sneeze.

o Wash your hands 20 seconds before coming into direct contact with the vulnerable person.

o Replace the mask immediately when it becomes contaminated.

If you have to go back into the house:

o Wash your hands for 20 seconds.

o Ventilate the space by opening windows.

o Wear a well-sealed mask.

o Do not raise your voice, turn your head and use your elbow to cough or sneeze.

o Do not sit face to face.

o Keep a distance of more than 1-2 metres.

o Avoid touching common surfaces (door handles, fridge door, computer keyboard, telephone, kitchen counter, stair rail, light switch, piano...).

o If you have produced possibly contaminated waste (tissues or other waste) during your visit, take it with you when you leave.

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The epidemiological study in China of 105 COVID+ cases and their close contacts revealed that secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurred in 64 of 392 household contacts (16.3%). The secondary attack rate in children was 4% compared to 17.1% in adults. The secondary attack rate among household contacts with self-quarantined reference patients since symptom onset was 0%, compared to 16.9% among contacts without quarantined reference patients. The secondary attack rate for contacts who were spouses of index cases was 27.8%, compared with 17.3% for other adult household members.

Li, W., Zhang, B., Lu, J., Liu, S., Chang, Z., Cao, P., ... & Chen, J. (2020). The characteristics of household transmission of COVID-19. Clinical Infectious Diseases.

In Shenzhen, according to an epidemiological study of 391 COVID+ cases, the percentage of household contacts (those sharing a room, apartment, or other type of bed) whose infection with SARS-CoV-2 was subsequently confirmed was estimated at 15%.

Bi, Q., Wu, Y., Mei, S., Ye, C., Zou, X., Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Wei, L., Truelove, S. A., Zhang, T., Gao, W., Cheng, C., Tang, X., Wu, X., Wu, Y., Sun, B., Huang, S., Sun, Y., Zhang, J., Ma, T., ... Feng, T. (2020). Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. Infectious diseases, S1473-3099(20)30287-5. Advance online publication.

Around a COVID+ patient in Singapore, who was coughing and had a mild form of the disease, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was found in significant quantities on the following items: stethoscope, toilet bowl, light switches, bed edge, chair, door handle, sink, window.

Ong, S. W. X., Tan, Y. K., Chia, P. Y., Lee, T. H., Ng, O. T., Wong, M. S. Y., & Marimuthu, K. (2020). Air, surface environmental, and personal protective equipment contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from a symptomatic patient. Jama.

In a hospital in China, SARS-CoV-2 was found in significant quantities on shoe soles and on the floor. It is not known whether these viral particles were infectious. It is advisable to leave your shoes at the entrance to your home.

Guo, Z. D., Wang, Z. Y., Zhang, S. F., Li, X., Li, L., Li, C., ... & Zhang, M. Y. (2020). Aerosol and surface distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in hospital wards, Wuhan, China, 2020. Emerging infectious diseases, 26(7).

Further reading

Who are the vulnerable people?

Can a person without symptoms infect others?

What is the recommended distance between two people?

Why do we have to be careful if we live with a vulnerable person?