The government relaxed criteria for discharging the coronavirus patients from quarantine on Thursday.
So far, patients have had to show a negative response to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to be released from isolation.
From now on, however, the public health authorities will allow patients to be free from isolation without testing if they do not show particular symptoms for a certain period.
The decision is based on clinical statistics that there have been no cases of Covid-19 patients infecting others four days after the onset of symptoms.
|KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong explains the government’s decision to relax criteria for releasing cured Covid-19 patients from quarantine during a daily task force meeting on Thursday.|
Health officials believe the relaxed criteria will make the rotation of sickbeds three times faster than before, and reduce financial burden on health insurance as well.
Currently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention divides infected people into symptomatic and asymptomatic groups, and also applies different criterion for discharging them. The KCDC has identified that 30 to 35 percent of the patients are asymptomatic, and 65 to 70 percent have symptoms.
Previously, the KCDC released asymptomatic patients when the PCR test showed a negative response twice in a row at 24-hour intervals on the seventh day after confirmation of Covid-19.
Now, medical institutions can release Covid-19 inpatients without testing if they do not have a fever without taking a fever reducer, and clinical symptoms improve for at least 72 hours after 10 days of onset.
The health authorities have decided to ease the criteria to secure available sick beds to prepare for situations where a shortage could happen because of a potential resurge of virus cases leading to widespread infection.
“As we have always said, the Covid-19 virus is highly infectious on the first day or the day before showing symptoms, and the infectivity rapidly weakens after five days,” KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said.
Explaining the background for applying the loosened standards, Jung went on to say, “When we conduct a virus culture test, we can culture them for up to 10 days, but most of them responded negatively after then.”
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