FactCheckZWNews

Patients who recover from Covid-19 are not supposed to be retested?

Claim: Government is not testing Covid-19 patients who would have recovered from the respiratory disease, but are considered to have recovered if they remain asymptomatic.


Verdict: Correct

Source: The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care while contributing to a debate in Parliament on September 8, said the Covid-19 recoveries are not retested to ascertain if they have fully recovered from the coronavirus.   

“The new recommendation is to apply to all COVID cases regardless of isolation, severity of disease.  The discharge criteria is below; For symptomatic patients, meaning those who are either coughing or whatever – 10 days after symptoms onset plus three additional days.

Without symptoms – which include fever and whatever; they shall not be retested but considered to be recovered. 

“That is what you are seeing when you see the national report saying recovered – they have not tested the recovered.  They would have spent the required time.  For asymptomatic cases, 10 days after testing positive without further retest, you are declared free,” Dr Labode was quoted in the Hansard.

Full story: Dr Gibson Mhlanga, the former permanent secretary in the health ministry said the recovered patients are not supposed to be re-tested.

“Yes, they are not supposed to be tested, there is some criteria that we use, if you are positive and you don’t have any symptoms after 10 days of being kept, we don’t need to test you,” said Dr Mhlanga.

“If I test you today and you are positive but you do not have any symptoms at all, zero symptoms after 10 days you are considered cured but if you have symptoms, we count 10 days and add three more days without the symptoms and we consider you cured”.

“But if you have symptoms for five days from the day that we test you we say 10 days from the first day plus three days,” he said.

Dr Mhlanga added that there is evidence to suggest that 5-10 days after infection with the virus the likelihood of transmission drastically decreases.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation noted that applying the initial recommendation of two negative RT-PCR tests at least 24 hours apart, in light of limited laboratory supplies, equipment and personnel in areas with intense transmission, has been extremely difficult especially outside hospital settings

“The updated criteria for discharge from isolation balances risks and benefits, however, no criteria that can be practically implemented are without risk,” said WHO.

“There is minimal residual risk that transmission could occur with these non-test-based criteria”.

Background: As of 20 September in the Ministry of Health and Child Care daily Covid-19 update the Ministry noted that the national recovery rate stands at 77 percent.

“10 total new recoveries reported. As of 20 September 2020, Zimbabwe has now recorded 5 924 recoveries,” said the Ministry.

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