< Vulnerables

How do you live with a vulnerable person?

Text updated on 2020-05-03

In order to protect a vulnerable person with whom one lives, several measures can be useful, to be adapted according to the possibilities and the size of the dwelling.

To enter the dwelling, everyone must wash their hands for 20 seconds. If people entering the dwelling are returning from a professional place where they have interacted with many people, it is also preferable to take a shower. Leave your shoes in the entrance.

To interact with the vulnerable person, keep a distance of 1.5 m - 3 m. Wash hands before direct contact with the vulnerable person. Wear a mask when talking in the same room as the vulnerable person. Try to have an open window to provide fresh air if you are in the presence of the person for more than 10 minutes. Replace the mask immediately if it is contaminated. Wash your hands after removing the mask. Do not raise your voice in order to avoid more moisture release from your mouth, turn your head to cough or sneeze.

For sleep, provide a well-ventilated single room for the vulnerable person and ventilate this space by opening the windows for 30 minutes in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.

For bathing, the vulnerable person should wash his or her teeth and body ideally in a different bathroom from others in the home, or alternatively, thoroughly clean the bathroom, toilet, and sink before each use by the vulnerable person. If possible, dedicate one garbage can with a closed bag for the vulnerable person and another for others.

In general, avoid the vulnerable person from cleaning surfaces and washing potentially contaminated clothing themselves.





It is not advisable for a vulnerable person to take care of children, especially if they have contact with other people. Children typically have weaker symptoms than adults, but they can catch and spread the virus. It is also more difficult for children to follow barrier gestures.

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The epidemiological study in China of 105 cases of COVID-19 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 cases of COVID-19, the percentage of household contacts (those sharing an apartment, room, or bed) who were later confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 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.

Near a patient COVID-19 in Singapore who had a cough and 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

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

Who are the vulnerable people?

How do you wash your hands?

How do you put on and take off your mask?

Can a person without symptoms infect others?