Hospitals not required to retest COVID-19 patients before discharge

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Thai government has decided that a further test for COVID-19 prior to a patient’s discharge is no longer required for patients in much improved condition, however such patients should continue to self-isolate at home until the 14th day.

Deputy Government Spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul, has responded to questions from COVID-19 patients and their relatives about the lack of a COVID-19 test prior to discharge from hospital, saying the practice is no longer mandatory according to the latest treatment protocol.

In the current circumstances, hospitalized COVID-19 patients whose condition has improved may be discharged from the hospital in less than 14 days, the typical quarantine period for COVID-19. A COVID-19 test to see whether they are still infected prior to discharge is not a requirement, according the the latest version of the official COVID-19 treatment protocol dated 4th August.

The updated protocol advises that the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 may still remain in the mucus or saliva of a recovered person for quite some time, depending of the strain of the virus, which means they will continue to test positive for COVID-19 despite having recovered.

The protocol, issued by the Department of Health together with medical experts and medical schools, suggests a test prior to discharge is not necessary, while the course of treatment should be determined based on the patient’s symptoms.

Patients who have been discharged early from hospital must continue to self-isolated at home until day 14. They must immediately contact a hospital should they develop a high-grade fever, a cough, tiredness, or a chest pain, have difficulty breathing, or develop a lack of appetite. Patients who complete the 14 days without new symptoms can resume their daily activities as usual, while maintaining social measures including masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing.