New Delhi:

In the light of growing evidence of post-COVID recovery complications, the Health Ministry on Sunday issued protocols that mandate follow-up of discharged patients at health facilities within a week.

The post-COVID Management Protocol for holistic follow-up care and well-being of all post- COVID recovering patients also places huge premium on AYUSH therapies asking people to have warm water and saline gargles and steam inhalation with AYUSH herbs in case of cough.At the hospital level, the protocol says the first follow-up visit of a recovered patients physical/telephonic) should be within a week after discharge, preferably at the hospital where he or she underwent treatment.

“Subsequent treatment/follow up visits may be with the nearest qualified allopathic/AYUSH practitioner/medical facility of other systems of medicine. Poly-therapy is to be avoided due to potential for unknown drug-drug interaction, which may lead to Serious Adverse Events or Adverse Effects,” the protocol says.

The patients who had undergone home isolation, if they complain of persisting symptoms, have been told to visit the nearest health facility.

Severe cases requiring critical care support will need more stringent follow-up, the protocol says.

The ministry acknowledged it has been observed that after acute COVID-19 illness, recovered patients may continue to report wide variety of signs and symptoms, including fatigue, body ache, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing, saying the recovery period is likely to be longer for patients who suffered from more severe form of the disease and those with pre-existing illness.

A holistic approach is required for follow-up care, says the protocol which is not to be used as a preventive or curative therapy.

At the individual level, the protocol asks people to continue COVID appropriate behaviour (use of mask, hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing); drink adequate amount of warm water (if not contra-indicated); take immunity promoting AYUSH medicine on the prescription of a qualified AYUSH practitioner; if health permits, regular household work to be done and mild and moderate exercise including walk as comfortable.

Daily practice of yogasana, pranayama; balanced nutritious diet, preferably easy to digest freshly cooked soft diet; adequate sleep and rest; avoidance of smoking and alcohol have also been advised.

The protocol further asks recovered patients to take regular medications and advises self-health monitoring vitals at home, including temperature, blood sugar and oxygen levels. It asks patients to look for early warning signs like high-grade fever, breathlessness, and oxygen saturation below 95 pc, unexplained chest pain, new onset of confusion, focal weakness.