The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced new case management guidelines for treatment and discharge of COVID-19 patients.
Director-general, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the third version of the guidelines was released following new science emerging about the duration of infectivity of individual patients.
According to him, the two critical groups of patient covered in the guidelines are the symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.
“The symptomatic patients will now be discharged at least 10 days after symptom onset and at least three days without symptoms, while asymptomatic patients can be discharged 14 days after the first PCR positive test.
“We no longer have to wait for a negative test to discharge, with confidence that you can go home and you are no longer infective or putting family or friends at risk. If your symptoms last for longer, we will wait while managing,” he said.
Ihekweazu, while noting that physicians are hesitant about the new guidelines, assured them that the new guidelines were effective.
“So, we are confident on the impact if this change is difficult, because we have been saying you have to have a negative test, so even though we have published this result, physicians are still hesitating to use then, but I assure everyone managing cases that 14 days (are enough),” he added.
The NCDC DG said the centre also removed the use of anti-virals like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine from its treatment guidelines. According to him, the anti-virals will now be used only in trials and also casually, because of safety concerns.
“The treatment protocol remains to manage symptoms, pre-existing conditions, supplemental oxygen therapy to different extents, treatment of bacterial infections and ensuring that patients are well nourished and well hydrated,” he said.
FG decries rise in maternal, child mortality due to disruption in essential services
The Federal Government also expressed concerns over the steady rise in maternal and child mortality as a result of disrupted essential services.
This is as the PTF warned that it was not giving out contracts and, therefore, advised the public to beware of fraudsters parading fake contract papers.
PTF coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, made the disclosure at the daily briefing yesterday: “We understand that a lot of fraudulent letters are going around trying to sell contracts to members of the public. So buyers beware, we are not signing any contracts on behalf of the PTF.”
On the rise in maternal and child mortality, Aliyu said: “We have been observing a steady rise in maternal and child mortality as a result of disrupted essential services. We have also seen life-saving, maternal, newborn and child health services, routine vaccinations, access to care for chronic conditions such as HIV and other treatments not being delivered in our hospitals.
“We are also seing diversion of certain products like second line HIV drugs, for instance, antiretroviral that’s being used for HIV treatment and that’s currently being used for COVID-19 infection and as mentioned by the DG NCDC.
“We are asking health institutions to make sure that they have proper assessment processes for people presenting with possible COVID-19, they must have holding areas and screening areas so that their staff can protect themselves and at the same time be able to deliver care.
“Hospitals are there to look after patients, hospitals are not there to turn patients back; people should not be allowed to suffer or die because of COVID-19 infection.
“We must not allow preventable death to occur in our communities simply because of COVID-19 or because we are afraid of it.”
Aliyu also stated that the PTF would continue to ensure health workers are protected. This is even as he reminded hospitals that they were there to treat patients.
“I would like to briefly talk about the impact of COVID-19 on our health services and both in terms of the quality and also access to care.
“As you’re aware, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world has engaged in an unprecedented response against this virus and against the disease and quite rightly too.
“However, as a result of this, we are seeing a situation where health services are not concentrating on other health conditions. If anything, the emergence of COVID-19 has led to the detriment in terms of care for other essential health services and this negative impact included reduction in health services that could arise from disruptions in medical supply chains or the availability of human and financial resources. Also, there is a decline in people accessing healthcare, simply because of fear of getting infected by COVID-19.
“We’ve also seen a reduced access to health care for medical diagnosis of other conditions and for the most vulnerable populations, like children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes.
“As I’ve said in the past, if you have fever today in Nigeria, it’s more likely it’s going to be due to malaria than due to COVID-19 infection and people need to be able to access care.”
Aliyu urged Nigerians to learn to live with the new realities of COVID-19 especially as “we are still far off from the permanent solution to the pandemic such as the availability of a vaccine. All of us must take responsibility in protecting ourselves and others by adhering to the health protocols and lockdown guidelines while we go about our lives in this what we call the new normal because post COVID-19 things will not be the same,” he said.