The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has issued a new set of guidelines for the discharge of COVID-19 patients in treatment centres.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated this at a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
He said COVID-19 patients would no longer require a negative test result before being discharged.
The discharge criterion by the NCDC, which had included two consecutive negative tests, was reviewed last month to one negative test.
Ihekweazu, however, explained that, with new knowledge on the duration of the virus, it had become unnecessary to keep COVID-19 patients in treatment centres until they tested negative.
“The two critical groups of patients are symptomatic and asymptomatic. For symptomatic patients, they may now be discharged at least 10 days after symptom onset and at least three days without symptom.
“So, if you’re symptomatic, you can be discharged if you’ve had three days without symptoms in addition to at least 10 days of symptoms. If your symptoms stay longer, we will wait for longer while managing you supportively.
“If you’re asymptomatic, you can be discharged 14 days after your first positive test, with confidence that you can go home and you’re no longer infective and you’re not putting anyone else at risk. So, we no longer have to wait for a negative test to discharge.”
The NCDC DG stated that medical professionals were ignoring the new guidelines due to their attachment to the previous protocols, adding that the science showed that 10 days without symptoms were sufficient to discharge patients.
On post-discharge management, he noted that only asymptomatic patients would be discharged.
Ihekweazu said, “We are not suggesting that people are discharged while they are still symptomatic, so we are talking about discharging people that are asymptomatic and have recovered.”
According to Ihekweazu, the reviewed guidelines are in line with the findings of the World Health Organisation, based on new research.