New MOH policy allows Covid-19 patients to be discharged from hospital even if second test is positive, says Dr Noor Hisham

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has decided to allow Covid-19 positive patients who have completed their two-week hospital treatment to return home, even if their test results come back positive.. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has decided to allow Covid-19 positive patients who have completed their two-week hospital treatment to return home, even if their test results come back positive.. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, May 26 — The Health Ministry has decided to allow Covid-19 positive patients who have completed their two-week hospital treatment to return home, even if their test results come back positive.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was based on the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO)

“Prior to this, some patients may have had to remain in hospital for more than two weeks, as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the 13th day of their stay came back positive,” he said during the ministry’s daily press conference.

Dr Noor Hisham said WHO’s guidelines have indicated that positive results from the PCR test on the 13th day could be due to residual fragments of the virus in the body, which are no longer active.

“So a dead virus can still come up as positive. The only question is whether it can infect others, but WHO has stated the infectivity rate after 14 or more days of treatment is nearly zero.

“Based on this, even if a Covid-19 patient comes up as positive again at the end of their two-week stay in the hospital, they can be discharged instead,” he said.

The director-general added the ministry will also have to change its protocols in handling Covid-19 positive patients, and will inform hospital staff of these changes in due course.

One-hundred-and-eighty-seven positive cases were reported today, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia to 7,604. Eight of them are currently being treated in Intensive Care Units, with five requiring breathing assistance.

Sixty-two people have since fully recovered from the virus and were discharged from the hospitals today, bringing the total number of recoveries to 6,041, or 79.4 per cent of all total cases.

According to the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre, no deaths were reported today, leaving the overall casualty rate at 115 cases, or 1.51 per cent of all total cases.

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