MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health on Friday said that it has revised its protocols on asymptomatic COVID-19 patients based on medical studies and scientific articles, allowing doctors in the Philippines to clear those not exhibiting any symptoms for 10 days to return home.
The basis for the change, according to the health department, are findings that asymptomatic patients are “non-infectious” after 10 days.
“[A]s long as the patient does not exhibit symptoms at all, three days na and naka-reach na rin siya ng 10th day niya nung sakit niya, maaari na siyang i-clear ng kaniyang physician na pwede na siyang umuwi,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Friday press conference.
“Or kung nasa quarantine facilty siya, pwede na rin siyang pauwiin kung wala siyang sintomas at naka-reach na siya sa 10th day ng kanyang illness.”
The updated protocol is similar to the World Health Organization’s June 17 criteria for releasing COVID-19 patients from isolation, where asymptomatic cases may be discharged without requiring testing 10 days after being diagnosed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Health department said that they will shift from a test-based approach to a “symptoms-based approach” in dealing with COVID-19 patients, citing studies that tests alone will not determine whether a patient is infectious or not.
“'Di naman sasabihin ng RT-PCR sa iyo kung ang tao ay nakaka-panghawa o hindi na. Ang sasabihin lang sa iyo ng RT-PCR na-de-detect ko lang ang virus sa katawan mo.”
Although cleared patients must still undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine period, Vergeire said that the department is considering shortening the duration down to a week.
“Pinag-uusapan ngayon with our experts kung paiikliin natin na baka seven days na lang ang additional quarantine period. So that’s part of what we are studying right now.”
The protocol changes are also seen to raise the country’s total COVID-19 recovery tally.
“With these updated guidelines also, makakadagdag ito sa mga recoveries natin.”
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