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Hospitals fast-track discharge of Covid-19 patients

02 February 2022

By The SUN

Lau says patients who will be discharged will be carrying a 'dead' virus but will still need to isolate

The Hospital Authority has announced a more relaxed set of discharge criteria for Covid-19 patients amid fears hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by a huge surge in cases after the Lunar New Year holidays.

HA chief manager Dr Lau Ka-hin said at a press conference Wednesday that patients who are found to have a Ct value of 33 and above in three tests will be released.


However, they will still need to undergo home quarantine for a further 14 days during which they must wear a tracking bracelet and submit themselves to several more tests.

The previous discharge requirement of testing negative twice in 24 hours will remain, while a third criterion Lau mentioned is when the patient tests negative to positive in an antigen test, but the Ct value is over 33.


He said a study conducted at the University of Hong Kong found that in specimen samples with a Ct value of over 30, it is no longer possible to culture the virus “because it’s all dead.”

Thus, setting the Ct value at 33 is deemed to be safe enough for the patient to go home as he or she will no longer be able to infect family members.


Lau said between 50 to 60 people currently in hospitals met the new criteria, and would be released starting on Wednesday. This was especially true for those who did not have any symptoms.

Previously, the more stringent discharge rules meant that hospitals were beginning to lose precious space for Covid-19 patients, as the number of new confirmed cases averaged about 120 in the past week, while only around 20 were being discharged.


On Wednesday, when 116 new cases were reported, only 20 patients could be sent home as of 9am that day.

The case build-up in recent days, coupled with the slow discharge process, led to a total of 1,220 patients being treated at various public hospitals and infection control facilities, when all but one of them were in stable condition.

Experts say elderly people will be hit hard if there is a mass outbreak of cases 

Earlier, the chief executive of the HA warned of a “tsunami” of Covid outbreaks after the Lunar New Year.

Writing on his blog, Dr Tony Ko said the prospect of a major outbreak after the holiday has reached “a dangerous level” judging by the number of infections with unknown sources that have emerged lately.

Ko warned of dire consequences if there was an outbreak among the elderly and children.

He said public hospitals have been preparing for the worst by increasing the number of beds and stepping up training for medical staff who need to take care of the young and the old.

He urged people to stay at home as much as possible during the long holiday instead 
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