Wednesday 21 October, 2020

MOH to allow COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms to home quarantine

File photo: Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

File photo: Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are exhibiting no or mild symptoms will now be allowed to self-isolate at home as Government continues to deal with mounting cases of the virus. 

The new measure was announced at the Ministry of Health’s virtual health briefing on Wednesday.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram explained that under the new directive, patients who test positive, but are displaying no or mild symptoms of the virus, will be allowed to quarantine at home, and will be checked in on regularly by health authorities.

 

Patients will be required to self-isolate at home for a period of at least 20 days to minimise any potential spread of the virus. 

The conditions for home quarantine include: staying at home; not having visitors; not going to work, school or other public areas; washing hands before and after contact with pets; using separate facilities but if sharing, clean before and after use by others; separate from others in the home; and wear a mask when around others even in your own home. 

Dr Parasram said the County Medical Offices of Health (CMoH) will be supported by the Police Service to ensure that these patients remain in quarantine, as this will be mandated under a quarantine order.

The CMoH will also check in with patients twice daily for updates to monitor their progress. In the event these patients develop severe symptoms they will be transferred to the Caura or Couva Hospitals for treatment.

The CMO said they are trying to ensure now that the bed spaces at the hospital are reserved for moderately and severely ill patients. 

Further, a significant change has been made to the patient discharge policy as patients will no longer be required to produce two negative tests before being allowed to leave state facilities.

The CMO said: "The discharge from our step-down facilities as you would have noted about a week ago, we took a decision to go down to one negative swab upon discharge. That has been further updated.

We are going to do a clinical criteria for discharge which is recommended by WHO. So there is no diagnostic criteria so you won’t be getting a negative swab upon discharge.”

From the first sign of symptoms displayed, patients will be asked to spend ten days at a state facility, an additional three days without symptoms at the said facility, then seven days in home quarantine.

For asymptomatic patients, they will spend 10 days at a facility after testing positive and asked to quarantine for an additional seven days at home.

The CMO said: “So, the first category for symptomatic persons, if you spend 10 days from the date of onset of your symptoms, plus three days with no symptoms at all, we will discharge you to your home, giving you a quarantine order that you stay for a further seven days at your home without a diagnostic test being done. You can be assured after that period that you won’t be able to transmit the virus to anyone else.”

He explained that this would allow for a much quicker process as it relates to discharging patients. 

Dr Parasram also appealed to citizens to adhere to measures implemented two weeks ago to slow the rate of infection seen over the past few weeks.

He noted that this surge was caused by individuals not adhering to public health guidelines and mass gatherings.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the current situation requires a “strong” response from the Ministry.

He explained that an “elevated response” will be rolled out as part of Government’s management of the virus.

These include strict enforcement of quarantine orders supported by law.

The new measures form part of the third phase of Government’s response to COVID-19.

T&T’s active cases of the novel coronavirus have risen to 1,177 with 132 new infections reported today.

The Ministry will provide another clinical update at 6 pm.

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