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Delta patients ‘can’t stay home’

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A home where Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district in June. Hong Menea

Delta patients ‘can’t stay home’

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has advised all healthcare institutions and hospitals throughout the country to refrain from letting Covid-19 patients infected with the Delta variant convalesce at home.

The decision came after the government set up quarantine and treatment centres in the capital and interior provinces to receive Cambodian workers returning from Thailand who had been quarantining in the border provinces, with some of them testing positive for the Delta variant.

Bun Heng, who is also head of the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19, said in a letter dated August 9 that the decision was based on the need to manage the treatment of Covid-19 based on the epidemiological data on the spread of the Delta variant as well as on studies on the possibility of infections.

“Covid-19 patients with the Delta variant – confirmed by the laboratory or suspected cases and whether they are imported or from community transmission – are not allowed to recover at home. Treatment is required at a Covid-19 treatment centre or in Covid-19 hospitals as determined according to the actual health of those patients,” the letter stated.

He also claimed that the technical and medical sub-commissions of the Covid-19 committee had set conditions for the completion of treatment for the Delta variant and these conditions will have to be implemented in the capital and provinces.

According to the requirements for the completion of treatment for the Delta variant, the Ministry of Health said that the capital and provincial health departments, Covid-19 hospitals and Covid-19 treatment centres for mild cases in the capital and provinces all had to carry out treatment procedures that are different from regular Alpha variant Covid-19 patients.

The ministry added that all patients with the Delta variant will be tested with PCR on the 16th day after receiving their first positive test results for the Delta variant.

If their test then comes back positive again, they have to continue to be treated on-site, with an additional PCR test administered every 48 to 72 hours until they get two negative PCR test results back within 72 hours of each other.

The ministry guidelines said that for cases with a negative PCR test result on the 16th day, the patient remains at the Covid-19 treatment facilities until a follow-up PCR test is conducted on the 19th day from their first test.

“For Covid-19 patients with the Delta variant, they should be discharged from Covid-19 treatment facilities as soon as possible on or after the 21st day. They can continue to be treated according to the complications caused by the disease or end the treatment as soon as possible on the 21st day. They also must continue quarantining for another 14 days at home,” the ministry stated.

Hen Phearak, a respiratory doctor with more than 20 years of experience, said that the introduction of new measures for Covid-infected people with the Delta variant was the right step to prevent the spread of this new virus into communities.

He added that the Delta variant is a virus that is dangerous and can stay in human bodies longer than the previous variants and that it is far more contagious. So keeping Delta patients isolated for a longer period of time from communities is necessary for breaking the chains of transmission.

“It is difficult to control this Delta variant – it spreads faster and the death rate is higher. Considering vaccines, we do not have much, so we only have this measure. This Delta variant is known to be infectious without causing any symptoms in some people for a long period of time, but then it may progress in seriousness depending on individual people’s conditions,” he stated.

Phearak urged people – whether fully vaccinated or not – to maintain preventive measures and heightened caution.

He said that it was crucial that they stop the circulation of the virus because Covid-19 is constantly evolving as it infects additional people and it could mutate into an even more dangerous form eventually, depending on its interactions with the genes of each infected person.

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