In a new advisory, the Union Health Ministry on the recommendations of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has given out guidelines for empiric use of hydroxy-chloroquine (HCQ) for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 symptoms.
The advisory says that HCQ is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. However, its usage is advised to selected individuals. Asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases are termed eligible by the ICMR.
The advisory further says, "the drug is not recommended for prophylaxis in children under 15 years of age."
Apart from children under 15 years, it is not advised for people with known case of retinopathy, known hypersensitivity to hydroxychloroquine or 4-aminoquinoline compounds.
ICMR also adds,
"The drug has to be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. (You are) Advised to consult with a physician for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication."
On Friday, 9 April, while addressing the media, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry warned, "Hydroxychloroquine should be used as per norms. It is to be given only to contacts and doctors dealing with COVID-19 patients. This can be harmful to people suffering from cardiac problems. Hence, HCQ should be used only by the specified categories of people."
The health ministry guidelines adds,
“If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylaxis, he or she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines and follow the standard treatment protocol.”
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