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Nigeria reviews ‘policy’ on discharge of COVID-19 patients

Nigeria has reduced the number of tests conducted on persons infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) before they are certified to have recovered from the disease.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu  who disclosed this while speaking on  a television  programme on Thursday explains that recovered COVID-19 patients are now discharged from the isolation centres after their first negative test.

“So, the discharge criterion at the moment is a single negative test in Nigeria,” the NCDC boss disclosed.

He added, “We used to do two negative tests – 48 hours apart – but because of challenges of bed space capacity, we reduced that to a single negative test then discharge the patient to another one week of home isolation … that’s the policy at the moment.”

Dr Ihekweazu reacted to the allegations that the NCDC has refused to release some patients from its isolation facility after they recovered from the disease.

He also faulted the claims that he directed that COVID-19 patients should not be taken to isolation centres if they do not show symptoms of the disease.

According to the NCDC boss, the agency does not manage any patient but support clinicians in various states with guidelines.

He stressed that the decisions on the management of COVID-19 cases were left for the state authorities to take.

On how long infected patients stay at isolation centres, Dr Ihekweazu said, “The average duration of hospitalisation that we have found has been 10 to 11 days, although some have said that they have been discharged on the fourth day (a few people).

“There are also extremes that have stayed over 30 days; I think the longest that has been discharged in our record right now is about 38 days.”

“We have patients that have stayed longer than that and that number will change once they are discharged. The average duration of hospitalisation is 11 days to be precise,” he added.

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