The Centre on Monday allowed coronavirus patients with “very mild” symptoms and pre-symptomatic persons to isolate themselves at their homes if they have the necessary facilities.

The health ministry issued a eight-point eligibility guideline for home isolation. It said the patient should be clinically assigned as a “very mild case/pre-symptomatic case” by the medical officer, family contacts should have quarantine facility, and should also ensure that a caregiver is available all the time. “A communication link between the caregiver and hospital is a prerequisite for the entire duration of home isolation,” it added.

Additionally, the caregiver is also required to take anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as per protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer. Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has no approved treatment or vaccine. However, some reports claim that hydroxychloroquine could alter the course, but scientists have said there is no conclusive evidence yet of its effectiveness.

The guidelines also require patients in home-isolation to use the Arogya Setu mobile application and inform the district surveillance officer regularly about the health status for follow up. The Arogya Setu application, designed by the Centre, is being promoted as an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, primarily for contact tracing.

“The patient will fill in an undertaking on self-isolation and shall follow home quarantine guidelines,” the health ministry added. “Such individual shall be eligible for home isolation.”

The guidelines also urged patients to seek medical attention if they have difficulty in breathing, persistent pain/pressure in the chest, mental confusion, and when they develop “bluish discolorations of lips/face”, among others.

Patients will be allowed to discontinue home-isolation once the coronavirus symptoms are clinically resolved after laboratory testing.

Earlier in the day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also allowed coronavirus patients with provisions to isolate themselves at home. She cited limitations of quarantine facilities in the state.

The number of patients across India reached 28,380, including 886 deaths, on Friday evening. This marked an increase of 1,463 new cases and 60 deaths – the highest single-day jump ever – in the last 24 hours.

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