The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has cut down quarantine and isolation periods for patients infected with COVID-19 to 10 days instead of the earlier 14-day requirement.

US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its revised and less rigorous guidelines for monitoring and isolation of COVID-19 patients published on May 3, said that patients can withdraw their quarantine or isolation periods after Day 10 without testing or after Day 7 following a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).

CDC pointed out that reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing the time they cannot work. “A shorter quarantine period also can lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Health Emergency Operation Centre under MoHP said that those arriving from abroad are subjected to mandatory quarantine or isolation period of 10 days.

MoHP has also urged government hospitals not to charge any fees from patients who are eligible for free-of cost treatment. Hospitals flouting this rule will be deprived of the compensatory amount to be provided by MoHP.

So far, 444 infected persons are in quarantine and 6,094 persons are in home isolation in Nepal with 251,692 infections, 240,363 recoveries and 1,749 deaths.

Since October 17, MoHP has been implementing Cabinet’s October 5 decision to provide free testing and treatment to only to those who can’t afford to pay, frontline health workers, security personnel and cleaning staff.

Though the Supreme Court’s November 8 decision required the government to conduct free testing and treatment of all COVID-19 patients, the government has been testing and treating only symptomatic patients.

Following the decision, contact tracing has virtually come to a grinding halt while the number of test carried out daily has plummeted.