Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: Ghana’s health service amends discharge policy

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The Ghana Health Service (GHS) said here Thursday it had amended its discharge policy for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, using the World Health Organisation (WHO) new guidelines and local evidence.

GHS Director-General Dr. Patrick Kuma-Abaoagye said at a press briefing organized by the ministry of Information that the new policy was reached after consultations with relevant stakeholders such as health directors and scientists.

Under the new discharge policy, patients who are asymptomatic in their facilities for 14 days after the initial positive test will be discharged without a test.

“The initial positive test is not when you received your result; it is the day when your sample was taken, for that is when you were positive, not when the result came,” Dr Kuma-Abpagye said.

He explained that those who were symptomatic would have to do 14 days in their facilities and if they were without symptoms such as coughing and high temperature, they would be discharged.

Under the previous policy, he said after the 14 days for asymptomatic cases from the time samples were taken, the patient was discharged.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said a patient could be discharged after 10 days of symptom onset and no fever for three days without any need for testing prior to discharge.

The patient, at the time of discharge will be advised to isolate himself or herself at home and self-monitor his or her health for further seven days and come for a medical review.

The director-general said a patient "will be discharged if one is healthy; that one does not pose a risk to anybody”, adding, “but we will go ahead and see that you have tested negative”.

The director-general said that, with the old guidelines, “it was more of a test-based strategy and a patient was discharged after getting two negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests within twenty-four hours apart”.

“Initially because the numbers are few, this was an adequate policy but with the increased number of cases, now we are talking about twelve thousand plus, it brought to fore some challenges and not just Ghana, globally everybody started having a challenge,” he said.

“First was the rising cost of tests; the test is not as simply as we make it look, the test is quite expensive. We also talk about the fact that because of that policy, each person who has turned positive had to do three tests before being discharged. That is the first positive test, your first negative and your second negative tests.”

He said the increasing workload was because people were staying in hospitals just waiting for their results to be able to be discharged, which also had implications for sustainability, feed and most importantly the social cost to the patient who was not ill but was being kept to as it were stay waiting results.

The new discharge policy will allow health officials to focus on new cases and create more spaces in their facilities to be able to take care of more cases.


-0-  PANA    RA    18Jun2020