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COVID-19 patients get ready to leave the Racquet Centre in Tacarigua after being released from State quarantine last night.

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Faced with a rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health has revised its approach to the care of COVID-positive patients.

So from today, instead of automatically hospitalising a patient who has received a positive COVID diagnosis, the ministry will allow them to stay in the comfort of their homes until they recover once their symptoms are mild.

This was revealed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram at the ministry’s virtual press briefing yesterday.

His announcement came hours after the country was still reeling from the news that 132 more people had tested positive for the virus, bringing the number of active cases to 1,177. By 6 pm yesterday, the COVID-count had increased by 27, bringing the number of active cases to 1,204, with 192 recoveries and 15 deaths. The total number of overall cases since the virus hit the country is now 1,411.

Speaking during the press conference, Parasram said the ministry had changed both its discharge and admissions criteria in an attempt to keep bed space at the two main treatment hospitals for the more critical patients.

Before yesterday, COVID-positive patients were required to get two consecutive negative test results before being discharged to their homes. But now, Parasram said the ministry is adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which allow patients to be discharged without any diagnostic criteria.

“We are trying to ensure that the bed space in hospitals is reserved for moderately to severely ill people. If you spend ten days from the first onset of your symptoms, plus three days with no symptoms at all, we will discharge you to your home, give you a quarantine order to stay for a further seven days at your home without a diagnostic test being done and you can be assured after that period that you won’t be able to transmit the virus to anyone,” Parasram explained.

He said those who are in step-down facilities and exhibit no symptoms will also be allowed to return to their homes over the next few days. Principal Medical Officer in charge of the parallel healthcare system, Dr Maryam Richards said the number of patients at step-down facilities amount to about 400.

In fact, that process started last night when patients at the Tacarigua Racquet Centre step-down facility were allowed to go home.

Parasram said while people will be allowed to quarantine and recover at home, the ministry will be closely monitoring them to ensure their conditions do not worsen.

“What is going to happen is that the CMOH officers will have a list of all the positive cases in the country, they will call those individuals twice a day, do interviews to determine what your signs and symptoms are like, if your symptoms have worsened or if they have remained the same,” Parasram said.

He said if the condition of any patient on home quarantine worsens, they will be picked up by an ambulance and taken to either the Couva Hospital or the Caura Hospitals.

Parasram said patients will also now need to quarantine for at least 20 days to ensure they do not infect others.

If you have to self-quarantine, you are advised to:

– Stay at home, do not go to work or anywhere else.

– Do not allow anyone to visit your home, you can see your friends and family when you have recovered.

-Wash your hands before and after playing with your pets.

– If you can, use separate bathroom and toilet facilities from the rest of your family. If you cannot, clean the facilities after using them.

– Stay in your room and away from the rest of your family.

-Wear a mask when interacting with your family.

-If you need supplies from the supermarket or pharmacy, try to have them delivered to your home instead of venturing out.