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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Shortage of drug, lack of manpower add to Bengaluru’s Covid-19 challenge

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru has seen a jump of over eight folds since the beginning of July. The number of fatalities during the same period of time has seen a rise of around nine folds.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: July 27, 2020 8:20:50 am
Karnataka coronavirus cases, Karnataka COVID cases, Bengaluru COVID cases, Bengaluru COVID hospitals, Bengaluru news, city news, Indian Express While the total number of positive cases on July 1 in the city was 5290, the same rose to 43,503 as on July 25. (Express photo)

While Bengaluru continues to be the worst hit in Karnataka due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, doctors point out several reasons for the continuing trend — delay in patients seeking medical treatment, difficulty to procure drugs for Covid-19 treatment, and staff shortage among others.

As per the statistics shared by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru has seen a jump of over eight folds since the beginning of July. While the total number of positive cases on July 1 in the city was 5290, the same rose to 43,503 as on July 25.

The number of fatalities linked to the pandemic during the same period of time has seen a rise of around nine folds, as 862 deaths have been confirmed so far (on Saturday) in the capital city alone from 97 on July 1. Follow coronavirus pandemic LIVE updates

Dr Jagadish Hiremath, of ACE Suhas Hospital in Jigani said the demand for ventilators have shot up high as several patients, especially those with comorbidity, delay their visit to the hospital.

Read | Karnataka caps prices for Covid-19 tests; Rs 2000 for RT-PCR, 700 for rapid test

“We have observed multiple cases where patients reach the hospital late as they wait till their condition aggravates, resulting in us getting distress calls very late at night requiring ventilator-support. To avoid this, patients should reach out for medical assistance immediately after they test positive, following the guidelines laid by the government,” he said.

Karnataka coronavirus cases, Karnataka COVID cases, Bengaluru COVID cases, Bengaluru COVID hospitals, Bengaluru news, city news, Indian Express A boy wearing a face mask as a precaution against coronavirus walks past a notice displayed by authorities on a makeshift barricade set up to restrict entry in a containment zone during lockdown in Bengaluru, India, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

At the same time, Dr Mahesh Mylarappa, Consultant, Emergency Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal added that a sense of fear in patients is another hurdle. “Patients are scared of getting quarantined or isolated and many are neglecting the actual symptoms. This leads to them presenting late to hospital with worsened symptoms and many deaths have occurred in such situations,” he said.

Dr Mylarappa added that sharing information on patients, their areas of residence, and travel history on the public domain is necessary. “This will help bring about the seriousness of the issue. The fear factor should, however, be handled by emphasising on the preventive measures to be strictly followed by all to make sure of their personal safety,” he added.

Also read | Karnataka plans to regulate Remdisvir supply to curb black marketing

At hospitals, yet another challenge doctors continue to face is the shortage of Remdesivir, a drug used to treat Covid-19. “We are still finding it difficult to get stock of Remdisvir. Even after talking with the pharmaceutical company, it takes a week or two to procure the medicine,” Dr Hiremath said.

While he added that the Karnataka government’s decision to regulate the supply would help resolve the problem, Dr V Suriraju, Managing Director of Regal Hospital pointed out some hospitals were left without a single vial of the drug even now.

“Government regulation is expected to rationalize shortage and supply concerns. However, Remdisvir has seen an astronomical jump in price as it is being black marketed as per reports. This is extremely unfortunate and condemnable while the efficacy of the drug is yet to be among all the patients across age groups testing positive for coronavirus infection,” he said.

Read | Uniform country-wide peak in COVID-19 cases will not happen: Expert

Further, he emphasised on how the lack of manpower in the healthcare sector is affecting containment efforts at hospitals. “We have been working tirelessly for months now. At times, we have had workdays spanning across 18 to 20 hours to cover staff shortage-related crises,” Dr Suviraju said.

While some symptomatic patients find it difficult to reserve a bed at a particular hospital of choice for Covid-19 treatment in Bengaluru, doctors point out there is a demand for patients from the same family trying to get admitted at the same hospital for their convenience.

“We have seen several instances of more than one person in a family getting infected. While not everyone in the family turns out to sick to the same extent, we stress on the vulnerable elderly subset and those with co-morbid illnesses for treatment at our hospital,” Dr Srivatsa Lokeshwaran, Consultant, Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital said.

Also read | India coronavirus numbers explained: States can’t deny community transmission anymore

He added that families can use hotels converted to Covid Care Centres, in case the situation at home is not suitable for quarantine. “Such centres will also have doctors to monitor their condition closely,” he said.

Regarding the possibility of community transmission of the infection in the city, doctors shared mixed responses.

“Lately, we have observed an increase in patients without any primary contact. Prima facie, it looks like community transmission is on at certain pockets. However, it is difficult to assert the same at a general level,” Dr Hiremath opined.

He added that it is essential to optimise and enhance the contact tracing process by mapping each patient and their primary contacts.

Dr Mylarappa said, “Community spread has happened based on what we are seeing at hospitals these days. The spread can still be contained if an adequate distance is maintained, face masks are used properly and hand washing is practiced.”

Over 47 per cent of the total Covid-19 positive cases and deaths confirmed due to the pandemic in Karnataka are in the capital city Bengaluru alone.

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