A virologist with the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR) has cautioned government to tread cautiously in adopting reviewed discharge protocols for Covid-19 carriers recommended by the World Health Organisation (W.H.O).
According to Dr Augustine Angelina Sylverken, a wholesale approach to this directive may be detrimental to the strides made by the country in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The new protocols are set to, among other things, de-isolate asymptomatic cases 14 days after an initial positive test. For symptomatic cases, de-isolation is scheduled to take place 14 days after onset of symptoms plus at least 3 days without symptoms.
The fresh directive is expected to reduce ‘rising cost in testing’ and ‘increasing workload’.
But Dr Sylverken is hesitant in her belief in the latest recommendation.
She told Emefa Apawu on ‘Beyond The Lockdown’ show on Sunday, she warned that a wholesale approach to the fresh modality may be risky.
“I don’t think that the fact that the WHO says we should forget about it [initial protocols] – of course, they gave a number of reasons like lack of equipment, personnel and so on – I think we need to assess ourselves.
“If we feel that we have the needed resources, i.e beds in isolation centres and testing capacity [existing protocols must be continued],” the KCCR virologist said.
The application of the new recovery and discharge protocols has already resulted in a spike in discharges of over 10,000 persons from various treatment facilities across the country.
Dr Sylverken explained that “if I am even symptomatic or asymptomatic and I am taken to an isolation centre and after a period of time I am asked to go home without any test, you think psychologically we should really be treading cautiously.”
Acknowledging the veracity of the studies which necessitated the alteration in discharge policy, Dr Sylvaken pointed out some isolated cases may fall outside the remits which she believes is enough cause for concern.
“Even in the same WHO document, they actually cited one study, amazingly they named it one possible outlier. So there may be some outliers whereby for one patient, the viral cultures were positive from upper respiratory tract specimens. It continued to be positive until Day 18 even though this person did not show any signs and symptoms,” the virologist explained.
On the back of these sentiments, Dr Sylverken advised against a straight-jacket approach towards implementing the directive.
“As a country, we may want to generate our own local context-based data to inform us on some of these discharge protocols. WHO is our mother health organization but I think as a country we also have our own uniqueness,” she told host Emefa Apawu.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Dr Bernard Oko Boye explained that some local ongoing research align with the new discharge guidelines announced by the WHO.
He further said the increased level of testing by Ghana gives the health authorities a fair idea about the dynamics of the local context of the virus, thereby guiding the country’s approach to dealing with case management.
“Ghana is doing 8,608 [tests per million]… What this means is the chances of somebody walking around with the virus and not knowing is higher in countries with very low tests per million. So that nobody makes the mistake of thinking that, because we are looking at people who are asymptomatic for 14 days, what if there are others around us who are positive but don’t know. That is a universal phenomenon,” he clarified.