No decision on home care yet, COVID-19 patients to be directed to closest treatment facility

Ministry of Health Sri Lanka

The Government has not yet decided to permit home care for asymptomatic patients, health officials said yesterday, and COVID-19 patients will be directed to the treatment or intermediate care centre closes to them.

Following a meeting of the COVID-19 Task Force yesterday, the Health Ministry issued a statement on key decisions taken regarding the COVID-19 situation in the country. According to the statement, all patients will be transferred to a treatment centre or intermediate care centre closest to them.

Healthcare personnel from hospitals and health centres with an excess of health staff will be directed to COVID-19 treatment centres. The decision was made in response to requests from Public and private treatment centres that are facing shortages of health staff and medical equipment.

At a press briefing held at the Health Promotion Bureau yesterday, Health Ministry’s Deputy Director General of Education, Training and Research and Head of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Dr. Hemanth Herath said that despite developing guidelines, circulars and other documents on home care, a decision is yet to be made permitting asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to remain at home. “We have not taken any decision to look after the patient at home. However, we know that during this period there is a delay in sending positive patients to treatment centres, so until such time, we need to monitor their situation and then if anyone needs any type of urgent treatment we need to identify them,” he said.

According to Dr. Herath, a system of monitoring patients at home as they await transfer to treatment centres is being planned and the Government is exploring all possibilities to prepare for any eventuality.

When questioned about the community spread of COVID-19, Dr. Herath said declaring community spread could require adjustments to the current surveillance strategy, which the Government has no plans to do. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published interim guidance on community transmission and recommended action for key areas. Under the surveillance and risk and severity assessments category, WHO states: “In the event of community transmission over large areas of the country, surveillance may need to evolve from the daily reporting of individual cases towards the less frequent (e.g., weekly) reporting of aggregated data for the purpose of monitoring disease trends.”

According to Dr. Hemantha Herath all possible action is being taken at present to trace contacts of COVID-19 positive patients and contain the spread of the disease. “If the situation is such that there are many reasons to admit that community spread has already taken place, most of these activities need to be changed and, at this moment, we do not have any evidence to warrant a change of strategy to any other level,” he said, adding that contact tracing and patient detection was under control.

(Source: Daily FT)