|COVID-19 patients treated at home in northern Vĩnh Phúc Province. —VNA/VNS Photo
Việt Nam has recorded an average of 117,379 new cases of COVID-19 daily over the past week and nearly 99 per cent of patients are treated at home.
Director of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Medical Examination and Treatment Lương Ngọc Khuê spoke to the press about important guidelines to ensure safety and efficiency in the treatment of COVID-19 patients at home.
How important is it to issue guidelines to manage and treat F0 cases at home in the current context?
Decision No 261/QĐ-BYT, dated January 31, 2022, on the issuance of guidelines to manage F0 cases at home and Decision No 528/QĐ-BYT, dated March 3, 2022, guiding the care for COVID-19 infected children at home, which are widely applied at medical establishments and households, are two important documents in directing the management and treatment for F0 cases at home, helping to ease overloading at medical establishments and prevent unnecessary hospitalisation.
As the number of new cases keeps increasing rapidly, the number of F0 treated at home is also rising sharply. The overloading of the health system makes it hard for COVID-19 patients to get access to healthcare services, urging them to search for information on the internet or consult friends and familiar doctors for prescriptions and treat themselves at home. Therefore, the issuance of guidelines to manage and treat COVID-19 patients at home helps not only medical workers to be more confident and proactive in treating patients but also patients to have accurate grounds to check their own health status as well to ease anxiety and prevent unnecessary hospitalisation.
What are the conditions to decide whether F0 cases should be treated at home?
We outline three criteria for COVID-19 patients who can be treated at home.
Firstly, they must be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR method or rapid test following current regulations. They do not have clinical symptoms; or have mild clinical symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, diarrhoea, or temporary loss of smell and taste.
Secondly, F0 without symptoms of pneumonia or hypoxia; having a breathing rate under 20 breaths/minute; oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry higher than 96 per cent; and having no abnormal breathing such as chest indrawing, nasal flapping and wheezing, stridor during inspiration.
Particularly, they are COVID-19 patients without underlying conditions or having underlying conditions with stable treatment.
We also require F0 who are treated at home to be able to take care of themselves such as eating, having a bath and washing clothes and be able to check their health conditions following guidelines from the Ministry of Health.
These F0 must have the ability to contact medical workers for medical supervision and monitoring or in case of emergency treatment as well as have the ability with available means of communications such as telephones or computers.
Those patients who are unable to take care of themselves but meet the first and second criteria and must be cared for by family members.
What are the requirements for treating COVID-19 infected children at home?
It is easy for children to be infected with COVID-19 due to their weak immune systems.
Children are unaware of the danger of the pandemic so their isolation at home requires tight management and supervision from parents or adults.
When treating infected children at home, parents need to carefully monitor the children’s health conditions. They must be brought to a hospital for emergency treatment immediately in case their health condition worsens.
Children can be isolated and treated at home if they meet the following requirements:
Children aged 16 years old or under who are confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR method or rapid test.
They have no symptoms or mild symptoms (having no difficulties in breathing, no respiratory failure, oxygen saturation measured by pulse oximetry higher than 96 per cent and having normal breathing rate in conformity with their age).
Children who have no underlying conditions or have underlying conditions with stable treatment.
Children must be cared for by relatives who are able to monitor the children’s health conditions and contact medical workers via telephones and computers for supervision and treatment when necessary.
There are many guidelines and recommendations available on the internet, including untested guidelines, for COVID-19 treatment. What do you think about this?
In order to be able to build professional guidelines, including the two guidelines on monitoring, treating and caring for F0 at home, the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment gathered more than 100 experts from different fields. Therefore, people should consult official information from the Ministry of Health.
COVID-19 patients and those who are not infected with SARS-CoV-2 need to be cautious when exposed to too many sources of information and carefully consider official guidelines and recommendations from medical agencies in monitoring, treating and caring for F0 at home so that we can overcome together these difficult times caused by the pandemic.
In the guidelines, we recommend COVID-19 patients relax and do light physical activities in line with their health conditions; practise breathing at least 15 minutes per day; drink water regularly; eat enough meals; increase nutrition and maintain positive thinking.
The guidance also clearly shows in detail abnormal signs in both adults and children for emergency treatment and hospitalisation.
What does each household need to prepare to monitor and care for F0 at home?
Each family should prepare basic and essential medical equipment and medicine to treat F0 at home, including a thermometer, personal pulse oximeter Sp02 (if available); medical masks; hand sanitiser; necessary personal items; and a dustbin for infectious waste.
Medications for F0 treatment at home include paracetamol to relieve fever, Oral Rehydration Solution (Oresol) to prevent dehydration; cough relieving drugs; and nasal spray: Sodium chloride 0,9%. People should prepare these drugs for use over 5-7 days.
It is also necessary to prepare medications to treat underlying diseases for one to two weeks if there are family members with underlying conditions.
In the guidelines, we clearly note that antiviral drugs, anti-inflammatory (corticosteroid) and anticoagulants that help prevent blood clots can only be used with doctors’ prescriptions. So people are advised to not buy and use these medicines themselves without doctors’ guidance. — VNS