The Health Department has revised the discharge policy for COVID-19 patients in tune with the ICMR and WHO guidelines.
Now hospitals need notwait for two negative PCR test results in a gap of 24 hours to discharge a COVID-patient.
The Union Health Ministry had revised the discharge criteria for COVID 19 patients on May 29 and did away with the criteria that a patient had to test negative before he could be discharged, keeping in mind the growing case burden and the shortage of PCR kits.
At the time, Kerala had adopted the stand that it could still afford to keep its patients in hospitals and wait for two negative test results before issuing the discharge.
Now that the COVID-19 situation in Kerala had evolved and the health system had started to feel the strain of the increasing case burden, the Health Department has come round to the thinking that the duration of hospital stay as well as the number of testing can be rationalised.
The period of infection in a COVID-19 patient starts usually two days prior to symptoms and lasts for about eight days. In such a situation, every patient now will be kept in hospital for a minimum of 10 days.
Accordingly, asymptomatic cases and Category A patients with mild symptoms would undergo a repeat test on day 10 (after symptom onset) and discharged if they tested negative.
In the case of Category B and C patients, the repeat test will be on day 14 after symptom onset. They will be discharged if they test negative and if they have no symptoms during the last three days
All discharged patients will have to follow instructions regarding minimising social contacts and avoiding unnecessary travel for a period of seven days after discharge. Earlier these restrictions were for a 14-day period.
“A COVID patient does not remain infective after day 11 of symptom onset, even if the RT-PCR test shows a positive result. However, we have decided to strike a balance and keep every patient for a minimum of 10 days in hospital and at least one negative test result, before discharge,” a senior member of the State Medical Board said.