Home care for asymptomatic, mild or moderate COVID-19 patients may be an option - expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 10) — As occupancy rates in the country's healthcare facilities continue to spike, an expert said home care for COVID-19 patients may be an option.

"Because the healthcare capacity is extremely challenged, and because the majority of cases are expected to be mild, home care needs to be an option for our family members, or for people we know, who are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases," Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim from the UP Philippine General Hospital told a webinar on Saturday. Lim is also a member of the DOH-technical advisory group.

According to the latest data from the Department of Health, the total number of COVID-19 cases has breached the 850,000 mark, with 190,245 currently ill patients. Of this, 97.2% have mild symptoms, 1.7% have no symptoms, 0.5% are severe, 0.4% are critical, and 0.26% are in moderate condition.

With the current trend, Lim said it might not be surprising if the cases reach a million soon.

Meanwhile, the country's bed occupancy rate is currently at 51.3%. Specifically for Metro Manila, the rate is at 67.4% as majority of the 159 facilities in the region are at the moderate, high risk, or critical level.

Lim explained home care may only be considered for a COVID-19 patient when inpatient care is unsafe or unavailable, or when capacity is insufficient to meet demand, which is the situation now in the country.

However, the decision to allow home care for an infected person will depend on three factors.

One is the clinical evaluation of the patient since only those who are asymptomatic or those mild or moderate cases without risk factors for poor outcome could be suitable for home care.

Another is the appropriateness of the home set up since COVID-19 patients should have their own room with good air flow and their own bathroom, and a good delivery system should be implemented to ensure less contact between the infected person and other people in the household.

Lastly, Lim said there should be a reliable caregiver to ensure the patient will be adequately monitored, and relaying information to public health authorities will be accurate. This cannot just be anybody with a risk factor, she noted.