‘Two negative tests’ condition for Covid patients abolished in Punjab

Updated June 26, 2020

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Move aims at reducing burden by discharging patients from hospitals. — Reuters/File
Move aims at reducing burden by discharging patients from hospitals. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The Corona Experts Advisory Group (CEAG) has approved a new “clinical advisory” by abolishing the condition of “two mandatory and consecutive negative tests” for symptomatic Covid-19 patients to discharge them from hospitals in Punjab.

Under the new guidelines, the hospital shall not perform two tests of those confirmed patients who would not show symptoms for three consecutive days from the 10th day of admission to the hospitals.

Earlier, every patient visiting hospital was admitted after his first report tested positive for the virus.

Later, two tests were carried out on each Covid-19 patient - one on the 10th day of his/her admission and second after 24 hours later.

“On Thursday, we revised our guidelines for the clinical management of the Covid-19 confirmed patients and abolished their mandatory two tests”, CEAG convener Prof Dr Mahmood Shaukat told Dawn.

Move aims at reducing burden by discharging patients from hospitals

However, this advisory would not be applicable to three categories of patients including Immunocompromised patients, healthcare workers involved in patient care and those living in congregations such as hostels, madressahs, prisons and community, he said.

He said the decision was taken in order to ease maximum burden on the state-run health facilities to create space for other patients of the virus.

Another purpose was to discourage the practice of unnecessary stay of patients at hospitals.

“Most importantly, the world scientists and clinicians are now doing researches on Covid-19, the clinical management and the treatment of patients at hospitals”, Prof Shaukat said.

He added that the CEAG Punjab, including senior medics, issued a fresh advisory in the light of the new global researches on discontinuation of isolation and discharge of patients from hospitals.

A Covid-19 patient will be put under observation on the 10th day of his/her admission under the new advisory to take decision either he/she is eligible for further stay at the hospital for treatment or not.

“In case, the patient does not showing symptoms for three consecutive days after the 10th day, the hospital will perform his/her two mandatory tests and he/she will be discharged”, he said.

Earlier, in some cases, the patient will have to stay for a month also due to some reasons, causing a great deal of inconvenience.

Primary & Secondary Healthcare Secretary retired Capt Mohammad Usman also confirmed to Dawn about the new guidelines.

He said the viral RNA shedding in Covid-19 declines with resolution of symptoms and may continue for days to weeks.

“However, the detection of RNA during convalescence does not indicate the presence of viable infectious virus”, Mr Usman said.

The isolation precautions can, therefore, be discontinued in the following conditions and a test to document cure is not required in these patients.

Symptomatic patients with confirmed Covid-19

Those who are symptomatic, the following symptom-based strategy is recommended:

At least 10+ days from the start of symptoms.

At least 3 days after resolution of symptoms (fever without antipyretics) and no or improved respiratory symptom e.g. dry cough, shortness of breath).

Asymptomatic patients with confirmed Covid-19

Those who are asymptomatic, the following time-based strategy is recommended:

Ten days from the date of the test.

Meanwhile, Punjab again witnessed a sudden surge in coronavirus-related deaths, as 86 patients succumbed to infections across the province during the last 24 hours.

Most of them were reported from Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan, taking the death toll to 1,602 in Punjab so far.

According to the official figures released on Thursday, Punjab reported 1,655 more confirmed cases during the last 24 hours.

Of them, 1,107 contracted virus in Lahore where the total number of confirmed cases reached 36,689 with 71,191 in Punjab.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2020