WHO recommends followup care for patients with changing COVID-19 symptoms

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Coronavirus patients – both confirmed and suspected – should have access to followup care if they have persistent, new or changing symptoms, the World Health Organization has recommended.

The U.N. health agency updated its clinical guidelines on Tuesday, in which it also suggested the use of low-dose anticoagulants for preventing blot clots in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

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“We suggest the use of lower doses rather than higher doses because higher doses may lead to other problems,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

“The other things in the guidance that are new are that COVID-19 patients at home should have the use of pulse oximetry, that’s measuring the oxygen levels, so you can identify whether someone’s health at home is deteriorating and would be better off having hospital care,” Harris said.

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The WHO advised clinicians to put patients who are taking supplemental oxygen or non-invasive ventilation into the awake prone position, on their front, shown to improve the oxygen flow.

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Canada has authorized two drugs for treating COVID-19 — remdesivir and bamlanivimab — while a number of other therapeutics are also being used and experimented with as part of clinical trials across the country.

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Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, given orally or intravenously, has become a de facto standard of care for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across the country.

According to the WHO, most people who catch the coronavirus develop mild symptoms and illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

Symptoms can range from fever, sore throat, dry cough and tiredness to a loss of taste or smell, skin rash and breathing difficulties.

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To date, the novel coronavirus has claimed 19,238 lives in Canada, with the majority of the deaths occurring in Ontario and Quebec. As of Monday, 753,011 people had been infected with the virus across the country.

So far, Canada has approved two COVID-19 vaccines – from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. More than 742,272 Canadians have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

— with files from Reuters

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