DOH revises hospital admission rules for COVID-19 patients

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — Not all patients who test positive for the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 have to be admitted in hospitals, a health official said on Monday.

Health Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines that the Health Department revised its guidelines for hospital admission last week amid the rising number of confirmed cases in the country. She said there are mounting specimens sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.

The health official said coronavirus-positive patients who are not showing symptoms or only have mild flu-like signs will be advised to stay at home for quarantine and strict monitoring by health workers. Vergeire said the patients have to be assessed by doctors, who will advise if they can recover at home.

"What we have done so far since last week, we have already revised our process... If symptoms persist that's the time they get back to us so hindi rin sila mahahawa sa ospital [so they don't contract diseases in the hospital] and somehow we could rationalize the testing procedures," she said.

Six patients have been sent home for self-quarantine, but Vergeire clarified they have not yet recovered.

However, for high-risk patients, they will be admitted so they can be closely watched.

"For those elderly patients, those with underlying conditions, high-risk pregnant women, even with mild symptoms we advised them for admission already," Vergeire said.

In the Philippines, 140 have been infected with the virus and 12 have died because of it. Two have recovered, while the rest are admitted at various hospitals in the country.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which is related to the virus which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but is not as deadly, with the fatality rate standing at around three percent.

According to the WHO, 80 percent of patients only experience “mild illness” and eventually recover. It added that some 14 percent experience severe illness while five percent were critically ill.

The disease is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with the virus cough or sneeze.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.

Commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Those with severe and critical symptoms should call the Health Department at (02) 8-651-7800 local 1149-1150.