*Asymptomatic patients who do not require medical support to be discharged from healthcare facilities 14 days after their first positive swab
*Upon discharge, such patients should download and activate the Ehteraz app
*They should also remain in home quarantine for an additional week, violators will be subject to penalties
*Covid-19 patients not contagious after 10 days
*Any patient with moderate to severe symptoms that require ongoing medical treatment will continue to be cared for in a medical facility until the symptoms subside
The Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has announced a new protocol for the handling of Covid-19 patients.
According to the new protocol, a majority of patients with Covid-19 in Qatar will be discharged from healthcare facilities 14 days after their first positive swab, HMC has said in a statement.
Upon discharge from a hospital or an isolation facility, patients should follow the instructions provided by medical professionals, including downloading and activating the Ehteraz mobile application.
They should also remain in home quarantine – not leaving home for any reason – for an additional week and those who violate these conditions will be subject to penalties according to the penal code laws on the prevention of infectious diseases and the protection of the community, the statement notes.
To date, many patients have remained in hospital or isolation facilities for longer than 14 days as their discharge required them to have two negative PCR test results before leaving the facility. The new protocol will benefit patients by enabling them to return home and back to normal life as quickly as possible, HMC said.
“The new protocol for discharging patients with Covid-19 is an encouraging step forward and brings Qatar in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and the most recent scientific evidence, showing that after 10 days from the first positive swab, the majority of patients are no longer contagious with Covid-19,” said Dr Naema al-Molawi, virologist at HMC.
“Our process for discharge so far has required patients to wait for two negative swabs before being able to return home. However, a negative test result can take a number of weeks to come through because, for some people, the body still contains traces of the virus. However, guidance from WHO and from around the world, including the UK, the US, and Germany, shows that patients are no longer contagious after 10 days. In Qatar, we will go a step further with a 14-day period between the first positive swab and discharge,” Dr al-Molawi added,
The new discharge policy applies only to those patients who do not require medical support. Any patient with moderate to severe symptoms that require ongoing medical treatment will continue to be cared for in a medical facility until their symptoms subside.
“Under the new policy, asymptomatic patients – those who display no symptoms – will be discharged 14 days from initial diagnosis. For mildly symptomatic patients, isolation can be discontinued 14 days from diagnosis and a minimum of five days from resolution of symptoms, whichever is longer,” explained Dr Nasser al-Ansari, head of Infection Control at Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital.
“Over the past few weeks, we have been seeing an increase in the number of patients making a full recovery from Covid-19. This is very encouraging, and we expect the number to continue to increase in the near future. While some people can become seriously ill as a result of the virus, the vast majority of patients make a full recovery and experience only mild symptoms. There is clear evidence from around the world that after 10 days of testing positive for the virus, people are no longer contagious. This means they cannot pass the virus on to other people and can therefore return home and start to get back to their normal lives,” said Dr al-Ansari.
After being discharged from a hospital or an isolation facility, patients should follow the instructions provided by medical professionals, including downloading and activating the Ehteraz app. They should also remain in home quarantine – not leaving home for any reason – for an additional week and their Ehteraz status will remain yellow for this period of time.
“The revised policy, which was approved by the Ministry of Public Health, is based on the latest scientific knowledge about the dynamics of the virus and the recent changes in US and European Ceneres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as World Health Organisation guidelines,” explained Dr Muna al-Maslamani, medical director, Communicable Disease Center and the medical director for Covid-19.
“The policy will apply to the vast majority of Covid-19 patients; however, there are some exceptions. If the patient is returning to a household that includes one or more people over 60 years of age, and it is judged appropriate, an additional Covid-19 test will be done prior to discharge. If the test is positive, the patient will remain in a hospital or an isolation facility for a further seven days and will then be discharged without a repeat test. Additionally, hospitalised patients, especially older patients and those with chronic conditions, who had required acute care because of severe Covid-19 symptoms, will be judged on a case-by-case basis by the treating physician before discontinuing isolation,” Dr al-Maslamani added.