HMC’s new COVID-19 protocol will see most patients getting discharged in 14 days
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) announced on Thursday that the majority of patients with COVID-19 in Qatar will now be discharged from healthcare facilities 14 days after their first positive swab.
HMC said that the new protocol will see patients follow the instructions provided by medical professionals, including downloading and activating the Ehteraz mobile application. They should also remain in home quarantine and not leave home for any reason for an additional week. Those who violate these directions risk the penalties stated in the law on prevention of infectious diseases.
HMC noted that 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.
Virologist at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Dr. Naema Al Molawi said that "the new protocol for discharging patients with COVID-19 is an encouraging step forward and brings Qatar in line with the most recent scientific evidence showing that after ten days from the first positive swab, the majority of patients are no longer contagious with COVID-19."
"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," she added.
Al Molawi said that guidance from around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, and Germany shows that patients are no longer contagious after 10 days. She noted that Qatar will go a step further with a 14-day period between the first positive swab and discharge.
She said that 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.
For his part, Head of Infection Control at Hazm Mebaireek General Hospital Dr. Nasser Al Ansari said that under the new policy, asymptomatic patients will be discharged 14 days from initial diagnosis. While patients with mild symptoms will see isolation discontinued 14 days from diagnosis or a minimum of five days from resolution of symptoms, whichever is longer.
"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," he said.
He noted that 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. He added that it was important that people understand there is clear evidence from around the world that after ten 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.
HMC said that upon discharge from a hospital or 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 their Ehteraz status will remain yellow for this period of time.
Medical Director at the Communicable Disease Center and the Medical Director for COVID-19 Dr. Muna Al Maslamani said that 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as World Health Organization guidelines.
"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 which 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 isolation facility for further seven days and will then be discharged without a repeat test. Additionally, hospitalized 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," she added.