CORONAVIRUS | Clearing a rt-PCR test is no longer a criterion for a Covid-19 patient to be discharged, according to the Health Ministry.
Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said patients with symptoms can be discharged if they have no fever (without the use of fever medication) for three days, and 14 days had elapsed after the onset of symptoms.
As for patients who do not display any symptoms, they can be discharged 14 days after they are tested positive for Covid-19.
Previously, the discharge criteria for patients with symptoms was that they should no longer have a fever and have had two consecutive negative results from samples taken at least 24 hours apart.
Noor Hisham said studies throughout the world have concluded that Covid-19 patients are most infectious two to three days prior to developing symptoms.
This infectiousness would reduce dramatically over the next seven days after symptoms appear.
He explained that often, the rt-PCR tests which detect Covid-19 genetic markers can result in false positives, because it was also capable of detecting "dead" viral particles that are no longer infectious.
Citing one study in South Korea, Noor Hisham said none of the 790 close contacts of the 285 recovered Covid-19 patients was infected.
"This showed that those who recovered from Covid-19 cannot infect others," he said.
He also cited studies that attempted to grow the virus in Petri dishes using samples taken from patients who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection but continue to test positive. These attempts have repeatedly failed.
"Thus the MOH concludes that positive Covid-19 test results from patients who have recovered are caused by viral (particles) or viral fragments that have already 'died'," he said.
Noor Hisham said these findings were consistent with the World Health Organisation document titled "Clinical management of Covid-19, Interim Guidance, May 2020" which stated that Covid-19 can only spread within 10 days of the onset of symptoms.
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