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Friday, January 28, 2022

Delhi: Confusion over home isolation protocol likely to end after meeting today

At the moment, some districts have seen complaints of elderly patients being asked to shift to government facilities, even if they want to isolate at home instead.

Written by Gayathri Mani | New Delhi |
Updated: January 5, 2022 7:50:58 am
The Indian Express spoke to several district officials, and while most said they were following the Union Health Ministry guidelines issued in April 2021, the current spurt in omicron has led to some amount of ambiguity.

Amid confusion over home isolation regulations in the capital, the health department will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the protocol for patients infected with Covid, including the new omicron variant.

At the moment, some districts have seen complaints of elderly patients being asked to shift to government facilities, even if they want to isolate at home instead. The Indian Express spoke to several district officials, and while most said they were following the Union Health Ministry guidelines issued in April 2021, the current spurt in omicron has led to some amount of ambiguity.

“The issue of home isolation was discussed in Tuesday’s DDMA meeting as well. We realise that districts are currently following slightly different norms. There is a need for streamlining and we will be discussing that in Wednesday’s meeting. As per data, most cases coming in are mild now. The focus has to be on effective home isolation since not all who test positive can be admitted to hospitals or Covid care centres. If that happens, we will run out of beds at a fast pace. A uniform policy for home isolation will be discussed and decided soon,” said a senior health department official.

For now, district officials are acting as per older guidelines. “As per the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued for omicron, Covid positive samples are being sent for genome sequencing, and if any patient is found with the variant, authorities take the patient to a notified government isolation centre for better treatment and care,” said south-east District Magistrate Vishwendra.

“I received several complaints from people over being forcibly sent to an isolation centre. I request people to have patience and believe in the system, because whatever the government is doing is for their safety. Home isolation for omicron cases will also start once the health department relaxes the restriction and allows patients to get treatment and recover at home itself. But, till then, authorities will follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” said the DM.

As per the guidelines issued in April 2021, elderly patients aged more than 60 with comorbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/ kidney disease, cerebro-vascular disease and severe immune disease will only be allowed home isolation after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer. If a doctor does not advise home isolation, the patient will be referred to a notified isolation or Covid care centre.

East District Magistrate Sonika said, “At present, we are largely encouraging home isolation in our district as all the cases have mild symptoms. Only cases where the doctors suggest care at a medical facility are being sent to hospitals or a medical centre.”

Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Sharat Kumar from the North East district said, “All positive cases in the district are mild and asymptomatic. So, as of now, not a single case has been sent to hospital or covid care centre. We are currently following home isolation guidelines issued in April. Besides, we have strengthened the process of cordoning areas.”

An official from the South district said they are sending patients with severe comorbid conditions and Covid symptoms to hospitals: “We have increased containment zones and all international travellers who have tested positive for Covid at the airport are directly being sent to a private or government isolation facility.”

A senior DDMA official said, “We are conducting 70,000 tests per day. The genome sequencing is less as compared to the number of tests. People need to relax and not panic – it takes about five days for the genome sequencing results.”

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