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BackgroundGlobal guidelines from the World Health Organization on discharging patients diagnosed with COVID-19 changed in 2021 to a symptom-based rather than negative PCR-based approach. Studies have shown that shedding of viable virus continues for approximately eight days after symptom onset in most patients. In Vientiane, Laos, until now, patients diagnosed with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 are hospitalised for 2 weeks and then, if they still test PCR positive for SARS-CoV-2, stay for a further week in a designated quarantine hotel before being discharged home.ObjectiveThe aim of this pilot study was to investigate the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts of discharged patients who are still PCR-positive following 2-3 weeks quarantine in Vientiane, Lao PDR.MethodsAdult participants, who were resident in Vientiane Capital and who were about to be discharged from hospital (after 2 weeks hospitalisation), or from a quarantine hotel, following a further one-week quarantine, were screened to assess eligibility for the study. The household of each case was visited a maximum of 48 hours before or up to 24 hours after the participant was discharged and a nasopharyngeal swab was taken from all household members. Repeat nasopharyngeal swabs from cases and contacts were taken on day 7 and day 14 after discharge home of each case.ResultsBetween 20th May 2021 and 27th August 2021, 55 cases and 84 contacts in 27 households were enrolled in the study. The median [range] age of all 139 included participants was 26.5 years [3 months to 83 years] and 83 (60%) were female. By household, the median [range] number of cases and contacts were 1 [1-6] and 3 [1-13] respectively. At discharge home 32/48 (67%) cases tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. By day 7 11 of 47 cases (23%) still tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR and by day 14 this number was 2/24 (8%). No contacts tested positive during follow up and the numbers tested at the time of discharge of the case, 7 days later and 2 weeks later were 56, 57 and 37 respectively. Loss to follow up at day 7 and day 14 ranged from 15-50% (participants not at home at the time of visits).ConclusionIn this pilot study we found no evidence of onward transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to contacts of cases discharged home with a positive PCR result. This suggests the current discharge policy for mild to moderate COVID-19 case following 2 weeks in hospital in the Lao PDR is safe.



Valasan kanphaet Lao

Publication Date





67 - 70


Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU), Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR.