No more discharge certificates for home isolation patients – Health Minister

…PCR testing reserved for high-risk cases

With 12,000 active COVID-19 cases being monitored in the system, the Health Ministry has taken a decision to cease the issuance of discharge certificates for home isolation patients after recovery.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony announced on Tuesday that persons are flocking the sites for the discharge certificates and it is challenging to verify each record. As such, those persons who have recovered can return to work.
“There are a number of persons who are coming to the testing site and asking for a discharge certificate. Now, when we had two and three persons coming, we can go back into the results and be able to issue that certificate. With thousands of persons infected, it is extremely difficult to verify the records to be able to issue discharge certificates for everyone and as of today, we will stop issuing those discharge certificates,” he articulated during the COVID briefing.
Public sector agencies do not require the certificate and if Private Sector employees require such document, then those workplaces would have to make alternate arrangements. Only patients who are hospitalised with COVID will be issued with a certificate upon their discharge from the medical facility.
“If you are in any one of our regional hospitals or in the Ocean View Hospital, then we will issue you upon discharge, with that discharge certificate. I hope that this becomes clear to people.”
Moving forward, every person to visit the testing site will not be eligible for a PCR test. Dr Anthony pointed out the unlimited use of this type of testing will be restricted to only high-risk cases.
“The Ministry is now going to do PCR only for people who are hospitalised or persons who would come to one of the A&E or outpatient clinics and the clinicians there decides that this person needs a PCR. If somebody is working in a high risk setting and requires a PCR, then we’ll do the PCR,” he guided.
At the National Public Health Reference Laboratory, 1500 to 2000 PCR tests are processed every day along with 2000 antigen tests. The Health Minister shared that people are showing up to be tested because they might have been exposed to the virus but many are not following the established guidelines.
“If you have been exposed, you can’t come right away to be tested. None of the tests that are available, PCR or antigen, would be able to detect anything. There is a window period that you have to wait and most people are not observing that. Most people are coming and flocking the site and when they get back their result, obviously, it is going to be negative,” he divulged.
In the case of an antigen test, persons are required to wait at least five days after exposure. He advised that a suspected infected person should quarantine until they are cleared to be tested.
“If people observe that, we will see that the numbers that we’re getting at the testing site would drop significantly. We want to tell people that if you have symptoms that are associated with COVID, then you should come to one of the testing sites and you can be tested. With symptoms and doing the rapid test, the test result would generally be that you’re positive.” (G12)