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What happens after a novel coronavirus patient gets discharged?

MANILA, Philippines – As of February 11, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 3 cases of COVID-19 (caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus) in the Philippines. Out of the 3, one died and two have been discharged.

On February 10, the DOH announced that the first 2019-nCoV patient in the Philippines, a 38-year-old woman who had traveled from Wuhan, China, has recovered and has been discharged from the hospital. This was the first full recovery from the disease recorded in the Philippines. (READ: First novel coronavirus patient in the Philippines recovers)

When do patients get discharged?

According to the DOH's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), a patient with a confirmed case of COVID-19 would only be discharged if all the following criteria are met:

In its technical guidelines on patient management, the World Health Organization (WHO) also said specimens from both upper and lower respiratory tracts of a clinically recovered patient should be collected to demonstrate he or she is free from the virus. 

“The frequency of specimen collection will depend on local circumstances but should be at least every 2 to 4 days until there are two consecutive negative results in a clinically recovered patient at least 24 hours apart,” WHO said.

Meanwhile, a person under investigation – or one who has symptoms and has a history of travel to China in the past 14 days – may be discharged if (1) an initial nCoV test is negative, and (2) if any of the following conditions are met, according to RITM:

What happens after COVID-19 patients test negative twice?

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo had earlier said that the 38-year-old woman’s recovery is evidence that "the virus can be eliminated as immune system mounts response against it."

Once a COVID-19 patient tests negative twice, she/he then follows these guidelines set by the RITM:

WHO also said: "As per our clinical management guidelines, all patients discharged home should be instructed to return to hospital if they develop any worsening of illness. National and hospital guidelines should be followed."

The recovery of the first novel coronavirus patient in the Philippines means that there are currently no living patients with the virus in the country, since the third confirmed case has since returned to China and has subsequently tested negative for the novel coronavirus after a few days of confinement. 

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III has also said that these recoveries in the country show that most cases from China are “mild.”

However, because the virus is new and is still undergoing a lot of studies, the DOH urges the public to continue practicing preventive measures and remain vigilant as it continues to claim lives in China. – Rappler.com

Pauline Macaraeg

Pauline Macaraeg is part of the Rappler Research Team’s fact-checking unit. Aside from debunking dubious claims, she also enjoys crunching data and writing stories about the economy, environment, and media democracy.

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