Govt updates discharge rules

February 26, 2022

The Government announced today the latest criteria for discharge from isolation for people infected with COVID-19 and discharge from home quarantine for close contacts.


Based on the requirements previously announced, infected people who have been sent to community isolation facilities (CIFs), people pending admission to hospitals or isolation facilities and close contacts under home quarantine are required to undergo 14 days of medical surveillance at CIFs or home.


Under the new criteria, infected people who have been sent to CIFs and people pending admission may conduct a rapid antigen test (RAT) on day six and seven after testing positive, once they have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.


Similarly, close contacts who have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may conduct RATs on day six and seven of the home quarantine period.


At a press briefing this afternoon, Director of Health Dr Ronald Lam said if these two groups of people obtain negative test results during RATs on these two successive days, they may leave CIFs or home premises earlier on day seven for their daily activities.


The public may visit the COVID-19 dedicated website for information on selecting and using RAT kits.


The guidelines on the website will be updated periodically to provide information most suited to people who have tested positive, including those who have tested positive by RAT, but pending admission.


The Government reminded the public that, as RAT has its limitations, they should not fully trust a negative RAT result, and should remain vigilant. A negative RAT result will not be accepted as a negative result required under compulsory testing.


Separately, the Hospital Authority has updated its discharge arrangement to increase the turnover of hospital beds, such that medical resources can be more effectively deployed on more imminent cases.


If a patient is in a clinically stable condition, and his or her home premises or residential home environment is suitable, or he or she will be accepted by other CIFs, the patient will be discharged from hospital as early as possible to stay at home, at a residential home or at another appropriate facility until the individual obtains a negative test result. Only by then can the patient safely leave home, their residential home or the facility.


Hospital Authority Chief Executive Dr Tony Ko emphasised that the doctor in charge will make a clinical judgment and assess the risk level of a person admitted to hospital upon clinical assessment.


“When a doctor or a medical colleague considers whether a patient is suitable for discharge, they consider the overall clinical pictures. That is, when a positive COVID-19 patient, who is of course in hospital, we conduct a thorough clinical assessment with overall clinical pictures. If they consider the patient is relatively stable and ready for discharge, we will arrange discharge based on different criteria, like the clinical condition, the symptoms, investigations among many other things. So, we won’t just rely on a single parameter, for example, the number of days to decide whether the patient is suitable for discharge.”

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