COVID-19: Confusion over discharge protocols of Omicron patients

A health worker collects swab sample for Covid-19 test amid fear of spreading of 'Omicron' variant, at KSRTC bus stand, in Bengaluru on December 8, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Although three contacts of the 46-year-old Omicron-infected government anaesthetist tested negative for COVID-19, twice in a span of 48 hours, their discharge from the State-run Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, the designated Omicron treatment facility,

has become a bone of contention between the treating doctors and Health officials.

While the three doctors, an anaesthetist, a cardiothoracic surgeon and a vascular surgeon, had been initially discharged on Tuesday and had left the premises of the hospital, they were asked to come back by the hospital authorities late in the night as their genome sequencing reports have still not arrived. And, accordingly the doctors returned to the hospital.

Sources said on Wednesday evening, the three, who could not wait any longer to get back home as some of their family members too have tested positive and needed care, left the hospital without informing the doctors or staff.

“We learnt from the nurses in the ward that the three doctors left the hospital as they did not want to continue in the COVID-19 ward after testing negative twice. Moreover, some of their immediate family members have been infected and they needed care and attention,” sources said.

However, Manoj Kumar H.V., dean and director of the institute, said the three contacts had been discharged but had not left the hospital. Sources said the confusion over discharge of the contacts is prolonging in the absence of clear guidelines. “When the patients are symptom-free, have completed 14 days after the onset of symptoms, and have tested RT-PCR negative twice after undergoing the required treatment for COVID-19, they are fit for discharge. This is what has been followed ever since the pandemic began and holds good even now, irrespective of the variant,” said C.N. Manjunath, member of the State’s clinical experts committee set up to advise the Government on treatment of Omicron patients.

However, State Health Commissioner D. Randeep said the patients cannot be discharged till their genome sequencing reports arrive.

“If any of them is detected positive for Omicron, we will have to observe them for a few more days and take a call. This is irrespective of their testing RT-PCR negative. The reports are expected soon,” he said.

Sources said the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), where the samples of the contacts had been sent for genome sequencing, is yet to send the reports officially. “We have been orally informed that the Omicron-infected doctor’s wife has been infected with the Delta variant. How can this happen? If the variant is highly transmissible, his wife should also have had the same infection. We now have a doubt about the positive Omicron report of the doctor,” sources pointed out.

Delay in genome sequencing results

K.V. Trilok Chandra, BBMP Special Commissioner (Health), said there was a delay in getting the genome sequencing reports as the samples were being re-sequenced. “We are expecting the reports by Thursday. None of the contacts have been discharged as of now. We will take a call on their discharge on Thursday,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 5:39:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/confusion-over-discharge-protocols-of-omicron-patients/article37905428.ece

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