The Federal Government has said that it may consider discharging COVID-19 patients earlier than their required treatment and isolation period though they are still positive.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu said this on Thursday during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
NCDC said it had begun testing people for COVID-19 only once as against its earlier stance on second testing before discharge because of the overwhelming number of persons at the country’s isolation and treatment centres.
Ihekweazu said, “Up till now, we have kept patients in care or advised that patients be kept in care until they turn out to be negative on the test that we are using – the PCR tests.
“New evidence is emerging that even when the test is still positive, in certain circumstances, after that patient has been in care for a certain amount of time, it is possible and safe to discharge that patient to home isolation. So we are looking at the evidence and we might change our guidelines over time.
“I am sharing this so that we start preparing ourselves for some changes and the directions of how we are planning to go.
“On our discharge criteria, we changed it from two tests – 24 to 48 hours apart, to a single negative test. The reason is that most of our cases that tested negative also tested negative for the second time. Of course, there will be some exceptions, but in most cases when they test negative the first time, the second test is also negative.”
He added, “Given the pressure we have on bed spaces especially in Lagos, Kano, and the FCT, we made a pragmatic decision to move to one negative test sufficient to discharge people.
“There will always be exceptions where it is not appropriate and of course it is dependent on your being clinically cleared of symptoms. So, if you are still symptomatic, then, this doesn’t apply to you.”