World Health Organization gives new treatment guideline for COVID-19

The World Health Organisation has released new criteria for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, which would hasten their discharge from hospitals and isolation centres in different countries.

WHO in a statement released this week said that the need to revise its guidelines becomes necessary following series of reports received from global partners.

The updated criteria reflected recent findings that indicated patients whose symptoms have resolved may still test positive for the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) for many weeks.

Despite the positive test result, it maintained that the patients are unlikely to be infectious and therefore does not pose the risk of transmitting the virus to another person.

Under the revised criteria, the WHO stipulates that symptomatic patients could be discharged 10 days after symptom onset, including at least three additional days without symptoms (fever and respiratory symptoms).

For asymptomatic cases, they would be allowed to go home 10 days after testing positive.

“For example, if a patient had symptoms for two days, then the patient could be released from isolation after 10 days + 3 = 13 days from date of symptom onset. For a patient with symptoms for 14 days, the patient can be discharged (14 days + 3 days =) 17 days after date of symptom onset. For a patient with symptoms for 30 days, the patient can be discharged (30+3=) 33 days after symptom onset.

“Countries may choose to continue to use testing as part of the release criteria. If so, the initial recommendation of two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart can be used,” the statement read.

On the reason for the change in the discharge of COVID-19 patients, the WHO stated that it has received feedback from global expert networks and member states that applying the initial recommendation of two negative RT-PCR tests at least 24 hours apart, in light of limited laboratory supplies, equipment, and personnel in areas with the intense transmission, has been extremely difficult, especially outside hospital settings.

“These challenges and newly available data on the risk of viral transmission for the COVID-19 illness provided the framework for updating the WHO’s position on the timing of discharging recovered patients from isolation in and outside health care facilities.

“WHO continuously reviews the scientific literature on COVID-19 through its Science Division and its COVID-19 technical teams.

“The updated criteria for discharge from isolation balances risks and benefits; however, no criteria that can be practically implemented are without risk. There is a minimal residual risk that transmission could occur with these non–test-based criteria,” it said.

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