Asymptomatic home treatment unlikely today
No guidelines issued yet by DGHS
Sudarshini had earlier specified a 17 May start
By Hiranyada Dewasiri
Although State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and Covid-19 Disease Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle had said that the health authorities plan to commence home management of infected asymptomatic Covid-19 confirmed patients from today, it is highly unlikely that this would begin today (17), The Morning learnt.
Our sources at the Ministry of Health said last evening (16) that the guidelines required to be issued by the Director General of Health Services to implement such a plan had not been issued as of yet.
As the number of Covid-19 positive cases increase, requiring more space in treatment centres, Dr. Fernandopulle said as recently as Saturday (15) that asymptomatic patients would be treated at home.
“However, if patients begin to develop symptoms and complications while under home treatment, they will be transferred to the care of a hospital.”
This move is expected to ease the congestion in hospitals across the country as daily Covid-19 caseloads are on the rise.
However, attempts to contact the Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena regarding the implementation of the plan and the necessary guidelines proved futile.
Writing to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 8 May, the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) and the SLMA Intercollegiate Committee (SMIC) recommended the commencement of home management of asymptomatic cases.
They recommended the authorisation of the isolation of families at homes, along with home management of asymptomatic cases, while being carefully and assiduously monitored by health care professionals. This should be complemented by arrangements being made for early transfers of needy patients with pneumonia to the closest designated hospitals, they added.
However, when contacted immediately following the publicisation of this letter on 9 May, National Operation Centre for the Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva told us that there were no plans to allow home quarantine for asymptomatic patients.
Attempts to contact Gen. Silva for an update to the decision yesterday were unsuccessful.
The joint letter by healthcare professionals claimed that the numbers of patients waiting at home for a bed in an intermediate Covid-19 care centre to be made available are of a grave concern and that significant delays in providing beds and in-patient care for those who need it has become common. They alerted that in such a context, a rise in deaths could be experienced within the coming three weeks.
The medical professionals thereby requested to provide relief to overwhelmed hospitals as healthcare workers are likely to be physically and mentally fatigued and drained.