FG Issues New Discharge Protocol, Removes Antiviral Drugs From COVID-19 Treatment

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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 that 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.

He said, “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 was 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 a new research.

Another policy change brought on by the latest research on COVID-19 case management, according to Director General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, is the decision to stop the administration of antiviral drugs.

Ihekweazu said, “In addition, we have also removed the use of antivirals from our treatment guidelines. Like the minister just said, the trials for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will still go on.”

Speaking further on antiviral drugs removed from the COVID-19 treatment guidelines, Ihekweazu said, “We reached out to some antiviral drugs. One that was in our guidelines recently was the lopinavir/ritonavir combination, which is a combination of medicines we use for HIV. So, we look for whatever we have to try.

“As evidence emerges and science improves, then we have to start making hard choices. There have been quite a number of studies now that have shown that they don’t really improve the outcome of this illness, so we’ve withdrawn them from the guidelines of management.”

 

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The National Coordinator, PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, raised the alarm over the lack of access to care for chronic medical conditions, including human immunodeficiency virus, as well as absence of maternal, newborn and child health services.

According to him, persons with underlying medical conditions are unable to receive the needed care.

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