As bed spaces become scarce, the Nigerian Government may be considering discharging COVID19 patients earlier than the required recovery time, so as to make room for new cases.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), intimated this at the daily Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID19 briefing on Thursday.
Ihekweazu claimed new evidence points out that it is safe to discharge recovering COVID19 patients in spite of testing positive to the disease.
“New evidence is emerging that even when the test is still positive after that patient has 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,” he said.
Inekweazu further intimated that double testing has been eliminated in favour of a single test per suspected Covid19 case.
He said the NCDC has switched to testing COVID19 patients only once as against its earlier stance on double testing before discharge.
This, he said is to enable the decongestion of some isolation centres in the country.
“On our discharge criteria, we changed it from two tests – 24 to 48 hours apart to a single negative test,” he said. “The reason is that most of our cases that tested negative also tested negative for the second time. Of course, there will be some exceptions.”
“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,” he said.
The rapidly expanding number of Covid19 cases across Nigeria has worried many. Cases have climbed to 7016 infected in total as of today’s update, with 211 reported dead.
The Government’s decision coincides with the worrying scarcity of well-equipped isolation centres across the country. Bringing speculations that NCDC is overwhelmed by the number of persons requiring institutional isolation and treatment.
Ihekweazu had said in a previous PTF briefing that the Federal Government was considering the option of home-care treatment for COVID-19 patients.
“Across the country, we have about 3,500-bed spaces identified as available for coronavirus but in Lagos, we are already struggling. So, we are going to work with them to keep trying to make more spaces available,” Mr Ihekweazu had said.