COVID-19: Nigeria to discharge patients early to decongest isolation centres


Nigeria is considering a review of Covid-19 isolation policies to discharge patients earlier than the 14 days required even when they are still positive

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has begun testing for Covid-19 only once as against earlier stance of waiting for patients to test negative twice before they are discharged.

The centre believes it will help decongest isolation centres, considering that isolation and treatment centres have become overwhelmed by large numbers of patients requiring institutional isolation and treatment.

“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 [polymerase chain reaction] tests,” NCDC director-general Chikwe Ihekweazu told the 35th briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.

“New evidence is emerging that even when the test is still positive, in certain circumstances, after that patient have 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,” Ihekweazu said.

Speaking on the discharge criteria, he said this has changed from two tests, 24 to 48 hours apart, to a single negative test.

He said the reason is that most of the 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. 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 does not apply to you,” Ihekweazu said.


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