EFFECTIVE January 18, the Ministry of Health will not issue discharge certificates for persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been in home isolation, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony said today.
This was only one of a few new measures announced by the health minister during his daily COVID-19 briefing.
On the high demand for discharge certificates from persons who have been in isolation at home after testing positive for the deadly virus, Dr Anthony said the health system is currently overwhelmed by those demands.
“Right now, we have about 12,000 persons who have gotten infected. It is extremely difficult to verify the records to be able to issue discharge certificates for everyone. And, as of today, we will stop issuing those discharge certificates,” the health minister said.
Dr Anthony said persons can return to work after home isolation without presenting a discharge certificate. “None of the public sector agencies require a discharge certificate, and if the private sector requires it, then we wouldn’t be able to issue that.”
The health minister said if this is required by the private sector entities, then those private employers would have to make alternative arrangements.
“The persons who the ministry would issue discharge certificates for are those persons who have been hospitalised,” Dr Anthony clarified, adding that this is applicable to persons who were patients at COVID-19 facilities at regional hospitals or at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Liliendaal.
Additionally, Dr Anthony said PCR tests will be limited to specific groups of persons. Persons who have been hospitalized, are visitors to the Accident and Emergency (A&) or Outpatient Clinics, or persons in high-risk settings would be eligible for PCR tests.
All other persons, the health minister expounded, would be required to take antigen tests also called “rapid tests”. The decision of who to administer PCR tests to will be made by the clinician or physician handling a case, Minister Anthony continued.
“This unlimited use of the PCR is not going to help anybody. We are now putting guidelines in place to make sure that only people who meet these criteria would get the PCR,” he asserted.
If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should wait before getting tested, Dr Anthony explained. He said persons who present too early for COVID-19 tests could test falsely negative.
“In the case of an antigen test, you have to wait at least five days. If you believe you have been exposed, the better thing is to go into quarantine for five days, and if you become symptomatic, you get a test,” Dr Anthony said, bemoaning that persons are not currently observing this rule.
He said persons have been flocking testing sites without following the guidelines for testing.