COVID19: The Complete Guide to Self-Quarantine

There is a great hack here if you think about how each one of us can cause such a big impact on the spread of the virus. Here is what I’ve learned from this coronavirus so far and this is how we can hack into the peak and flatten the curve.

Before we get to the quarantine tips, let me explain the current situation.

I’ve been social distancing for a few weeks now (since the end of February) and started my 100% self-quarantine on 16th March 2020. Note that I’ve been in Vietnam since Jan 2020 and I was supposed to fly back to India on 16th March. Despite knowing the international flights to India are going to be closed soon, I decided to cancel my ticket and instead went into self-quarantine on the same day I was supposed to fly back home i.e. on 16th March. This was based on what I understood about the COVID situation in both countries (I had to make a choice) and also because I didn’t want to be traveling around in the situation which would mean prolonged contact with other people in closed spaces – that’s what flying is.

Update note on 22 March: Also, there are 2 major updates from India after writing this article: 1. The ICMR has, supposedly, increased their testing approach and 2. Delhi has been placed under lockdown and other regions as well. These are great steps I’ve also suggested through the article earlier.

PART 1 of the article is on “Why you should self-quarantine” and PART 2 of the article covers “How you should self-quarantine”.

Let’s understand a few key points before we move forward on why we need to self-quarantine as well as get to know the virus better.


1.The number of cases reported of COVID19 is based on the number of people being tested

This is important to note as when we look at the numbers, we should also look at the “testing strategy” of the state/province/region/or country. A country with a “restricted testing strategy” which limits to testing “travelers from other countries showing symptoms” might have a completely off number than reality as other asymptomatic individuals who got in touch with any of the original suspects would be free to move around and spread the virus to more people.

Here’s the number of tests as on 20th March of the countries I’m tracking using Our World In Data.

The deeper the testing strategy, the more the reported number will match the actual number.

You can do a quick comparison here of 15,637 tests in Vietnam with a population of around 97.34 million and 14,514 tests in India with a population of 1.38 billion.

India is quite convinced there is no community spreading and hence won’t test beyond the restrictive tests however, I’m not convinced.

Here’s the data on the number of tests per million people in India as on 19th March 2020

And if you are not able to get tested in whichever country you are, then maybe you are in the wrong country during this outbreak – no matter what reason the country has for not testing many people – be it fear or panic or lack of resources.

That being said, another note here is that some people will require more than one test because of false-negative outcomes.

Also, fighting the virus is a task we have to work on together irrespective of which country we belong to or which country we are in. And it’s easier than you think. So before you start blaming the government for anything, remember this:

Don’t blame the government – You can turn this thing around!

This is an opportunity where each individual can combat the situation without waiting for the government to impose a lockdown: Self-Impose, Self-Opt, Self-Quarantine. Not just for self reasons, but for communal reasons.

2. COVID19 has an R0 of 2 to 3

R0 (called R naught) is the basic reproduction number to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. What this means is, on average, 1 person could spread COVID19 to 2 to 3 people. And this is how that would look like in the “best-case scenario” which is assuming R0 = 2.

Image by The Conversation under CC BY-ND license

This, as you would’ve guessed, results in an exponential increase curve of the virus spread rather than a linear curve. That is exactly the reason why you must self-quarantine to avoid the virus being spread to others as well as to avoid getting it yourself.

Based on the R0 understanding, it’ll also be clear that there is no way you “won’t have communal spread”. I’ll also explain the R0 using a Google Sheet to show how it turns into an exponential curve.

This is how one person can easily transmit the virus further even with a small delay in quarantine

In the above sheet, P0 is patient 0 who is COVID19 positive. This person may not be symptomatic or even tested but that doesn’t mean he/she cannot spread the virus further. You can observe in the sheet how exponentially this person can spread the virus to others just my coming in contact with 2 other people.

This is the reason why COVID19 has been so effective in spreading.

We will get into a few more specifics about the virus spread in the points below.

3. COVID19 has an incubation period of 1-14 days

Here’s where the biggest concern comes in – You might be completely asymptomatic for a period of up to 14 days and still be spreading the virus around to others. And the people contracting the virus from you might not be as equipped to handle it as you. This refers specifically to people who are old (above 65 years of age) or those who have a pre-existing disease or anything already harming their immune system.

You can see in the below image that people are already contagious to a maximum just before the average number of days when they actually start showing symptoms.

Image courtesy of Vox. Watch their full video here.

This is also the reason I am not going to talk about symptoms here as it’s important to understand that asymptomatic people are as effective in spreading the virus as symptomatic people.

The science of the virus with its R0 score of 2-3 combined with the fact that it has an incubation period of up to 14 days makes sure it’s really effective in reaching as many lungs as possible.

March 10 estimate of the incubation period of the virus
Number of days it takes to show full symptoms (Photo courtesy of Vox)

So, please know whoever you are, wherever you are – if you have no travel history, no symptoms, no fever, no dry cough, no contact with other travelers – you are all equally harmful.

4. COVID19 is everywhere

I don’t mean the number of countries the virus is in. I meant it’s everywhere outside near you. It’s in the air, on surfaces, on plastic, on glasses, on the Amazon package you just ordered, on your phone or laptop. The time it can stay on different surfaces varies but as long as it’s alive on these surfaces, it could still infect you without you having to come on the face of someone coughing or sneezing on you.

While the COVID19 can attach to particles and stay in the air for 30 minutes to less than 3 hours, they can stay on different surfaces for a longer period of time as shown in the charts below.

Image courtesy of The Economist. Read their analysis here.

So if you can get in a few molecules from the air or any of these surfaces in your nose or mouth directly or through your hands, you’re creating a path for the virus to get to your lungs, where the real action begins.

5. India is a few days behind the USA and a few weeks behind Italy on the curve

For my friends and family who’ve been thinking I was over-reacting to this coronavirus for the past few weeks, I just want to say you’re going to reach where the USA is in a few days and where Italy is in a few weeks if you don’t self-quarantine yourselves.

Source: John Hopkins University as on 18th March

While we don’t have India on this curve, we can understand how bad it’ll be hit with the population density, cases of people taking this lightly (including the quarantine dodgers and offenders, as well as the unhygienic conditions.

The problem really is not that it will peak. The problem is that it will peak and we won’t have enough resources in hospitals to deal with it. Italy has one of the best medical systems in the world with a higher doctor-to-patient ratio than even the USA still they’re facing this issue.

The only way to deal with this issue is to flatten the curve using a self-quarantine protocol. I’m pitching for self-quarantine more than social distancing or just regular hand washing because that’s how the real difference can be made.

An infographic that shows the goals of mitigation during an outbreak with two curves. The X-axis represents the number of daily cases and they Y-axis represents the amount of time since the first case. The first curve represents the number of cases when no protective measures during an outbreak are implemented and displays a large peak. The second curve is much lower, representing a much smaller rise in the number of cases if protective measures are implemented.
Image by Vox from source CDC

And I’ve decided to stay in self-quarantine for the weeks to come even though we don’t have a peak or any cases where I am because I understand the seriousness of the situation. This is because I believe in the “skills” of the virus. It started from a small market in China (it doesn’t matter which theory is true or wherever it really started at this time) and then traveled across nations affecting a number of people. It’s the virus winning at this point over people even though everyone can make such a big difference by just self-quarantining themselves.

This time, it’s not just up to the government, it’s more on us and how we contribute to this situation.

And don’t worry about the COVID19 vaccine.

There is already a vaccine for COVID19. It not only helps protect you but everyone else too. It’s called Self-Quarantine.

Now, let’s get into the 10 Self-Quarantine tips I’ve learnt from COVID19.


Tip #1: Learn how to think like the virus

If you understand how the virus works, you can think like it and literally contribute to saving the world. Now let’s assume I am the coronavirus (sorry world).

As the COVID19 virus, here’s what I want:

  1. Spread to as many people as possible, multiply, and replicate
  2. Fly from one country to another to increase the geographical impact
  3. Target restaurants and cafes to find more hands and hence mouths and nose as many as possible
  4. Sit on hands until they come in contact with the nose or mouth so I can find a way to the lungs
  5. Using a human to attend events or workshops or conferences or meetups where other humans can be found easily in close contact
  6. Use a human who is using public transport, move from their handles to handles, doors, windows, and other surfaces and sit there while many others can be found
  7. Prefer people-dense and closed air-conditioned spaces
  8. Ignore people alone in their houses as there is no way to reach them
  9. Try to find someone else going to get in touch with these isolated people so I can find a way to infect them as well
  10. Use stupid people who know they have me and still try to move around to come in contact with other people (easy targets)
  11. Stay undetected for a period of 2 weeks to make sure the host will take me around so I can spread more

These are the reasons why I’m (as COVID19) so effective in moving around and spreading in an exponential manner. And from a virus’s perspective, this is really a great job done. After all, the only purpose of humans is to give viruses and bacterias a place to live and grow, isn’t it? šŸ˜‰

Jokes apart, If you can think like the virus, you can reverse engineer the process and contain the spread by not giving the virus what it needs. Unfortunately, people are actually helping the virus in the virus’s project which is to spread as much as possible. And I don’t mean governments or media, I mean regular individuals who can do so much more!

This tip is a mindset building tip which will help you stay strong during your self-quarantine and also make sure you don’t break the quarantine phase as you can understand how the virus thinks.

Tip #2: Learn a 30-second part of a song and sing it each time you wash your hands

As the covid19 molecule contacts the fat cells in the form of lipid which takes 20 seconds to come apart from your hands, you need to make sure you’re washing your hands for atleast 20 seconds.

I actually pushed this up to 30 seconds to be on the safe side and have a margin of 10 seconds.

Image result for hand wash coronavirus uv
Particles shown on hands before and after handwash – Soap kills COVID19 šŸ™‚

I sing a part of a song I like in my head which usually lasts an average of 30 seconds. If you are a religious person, you can also replace this with your favorite prayer.

Tip #3: Learn New Recipes with Immunity Boosting Food Sources

I found self-quarantine to be a great time to learn new recipes and improve the ones I already knew. I also put in a lot of immunity-boosting food sources to help me maintain my immunity.

Perfecting my tortilla de patatas recipe in my quarantine apartment

Tip #4: Let your supermarket or online grocery store deliver to you rather than stepping outside

There’s a little more to this than just that. You need to have a protocol for this. Here’s mine:

  1. Pay online rather than exchanging cash
  2. Instruct the delivery to leave the order at the door
  3. Wait 30 minutes before you go out to take the order
  4. Open the door handle with latex gloves, take out all the food from the packets
  5. Throw the plastic as well as the gloves
  6. Disinfect the door handle
  7. Order only once a week

This protocol ensures the environment is safe before and after the delivery.

Tip #5: If you have to go out in public for any emergency, move the elders in your family to a different room for the next 14 days

If you break the rules and have to go out urgently, make sure you don’t return to come in contact with the elders or under-equipped individuals in your family. You will then have to move them to a different room until a period of 14 days.

This is also true if anyone else in your family goes out of your home quarantine setup. They should come back and self-isolate from the rest of the family for 14 days.

Tip #6: Disinfect your phone, laptop, and all surfaces every morning with 70%+ ethanol solution

Even if you’re in home-quarantine, you have to ensure you disinfect all surfaces, phones, and laptops each morning. Use a solution with 70%+ ethanol to do this most effectively.

My disinfectants collection to fight COVID19

Tip #7: Don’t let anyone visit you

While you might be doing your part, your entire quarantine can get ruined by just one person visiting you. Make sure you don’t let anyone including best friends and close relatives to visit your home.

There is no point in doing a self-quarantine and having others visit you. It is as good as you going out. Like I explained in Tip #1, think like the virus. COVID19 wants you, but since you’re in a self-quarantine, it can only get to you through external contact.

So it’s important that you block all external contact.

Tip #8: Use Tabata Sessions and other HIIT to Workout At Home

You need to stay fit when you are not able to visit the gym. The best way to do this and to get your daily dose of exercise in, try Tabata sessions or any other form of HIIT. My favorite one is the 7-minute workout.

The best alternative to hitting the gym and saving time

You can break a sweat quickly and get back to work during your home quarantine period. Put in a few HIIT sessions every day and you’ll feel great.

Tip #9: Take Online Yoga Classes

This is another great way to stay in shape during your quarantine. I’ve scheduled one yoga session every alternate day with my online yoga teacher.

Online yoga classes

I highly recommend her and if you need an intro, just send me a WhatsApp message at +919945199792 and I’ll be happy to introduce you.

Tip #10: Schedule online chats with your family and friends regularly

I use Calendly and Zoom to schedule online conversations with friends and family. This helps us support each other during the quarantine phase. If your family and friends are not the ones contributing to this cause, you can find a lot of online groups and open conversations of people who are in self-quarantine.

Online session on productive remote work

Tip #12: Disinfect the common culprits daily even in your quarantine phase

If you’re in quarantine and it’s already been 14 days, that doesn’t mean you can walk around touching your beautiful face all the time (I know a lot of us miss doing that now!) or leave things dirty. You should still practice “daily disinfecting habits” #dailydisinfecting for multiple reasons:

  1. If there’s been any external contact which you’re not aware of, daily disinfecting will help fight the virus that might’ve entered your home due to that
  2. It’ll keep your practice and once you develop it as a habit, you will be able to use it in the future to stay safe from all kinds of other viruses and infections.

So, for those reasons, we should continue daily disinfecting. Here are the common culprits you should clean and disinfect daily:

  1. Doorknobs
  2. Electric switches
  3. Mobile phone
  4. Mobile phone case
  5. Mobile charger
  6. Laptop
  7. Laptop stand
  8. Laptop charger
  9. Glass water bottles
  10. Utensils
  11. Table and chair
  12. Glass windows
  13. Glass doors
  14. Plastic bottles (avoid reuse if possible)
  15. Coffee maker
  16. Water taps

I will be adding more tips very soon and will be updating the article on a regular basis.

In closing, look at the following curves and how your small step can lead to a major contribution in flattening the curve.

Extensive distancing is what happens when everyone goes into self-quarantine!

Remember: This is the time the world needs your contribution. Let’s fight this virus together by staying in self-quarantine.

I’ll also be happy to have a conversation with you on anything you need help with during your self-quarantine phase. Just send me an email at and we will schedule an online call to have a chat.

5 thoughts on “COVID19: The Complete Guide to Self-Quarantine”

  1. Happy to update here that the ICMR has improved testing and also Delhi has gone into a lockdown until 31st March. These are all things the article recommended and it’s great to see them plunge into action quickly. Keeping the original note intact, remember you can all contribute and assume your respective city or state has gone into lockdown even if it hasn’t!


Leave a Comment