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Friday, May 14, 2021

Chandigarh records 23 Covid related deaths in 11 days: ‘This wave is aggressive and has involved more people’

Dr Zafar Ahmed, Senior Consultant, Critical Care, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, observed that rising fatality is a reflection of multiple issues. The rapid increase in number, he says, is straining the medical infrastructure acutely which had not yet recovered from the last wave.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
April 15, 2021 5:38:45 am
COVID vaccination drive underway at the dispensary of Gurudwara Sacha Dhan Sahib, Mohali on Wednesday, April 14 2021. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

“We are at the top of the problem right now, with the cases rising steeply in the last one week,” reflected Prof Jagat Ram, Director, PGIMER, while talking about the deadly second wave of Covid-19 cases in the country, adding, “we may experience a peak by mid-May or June. It will take at least four months for the cases to come down. It is very worrisome.”

The Institute currently has 223 Covid cases in the NHE, with most patients in a critical state, co-morbid and in need of ventilators. Prof Ram added that manpower is also fast becoming an issue at the Institute, with specialised health workers needed to operate the ventilators.

Talking about the current second wave which the country is witnessing, Prof Ram says the number of patients has increased from February to
April by more than 11 times, with all age groups and a higher population involved. Complacency, lack of responsibility, not following protocols and a sense of fearlessness, he said, has aggravated the situation, with the mortality rate also increasing. “The new variants of the virus have resulted in a faster spread of the disease, though the mortality rate is higher in people with co-morbidities and above 50.

It is important that this rising number comes down so that our health resources are not overburdened and we can give the best to patients,” he added.

The current prognosis, admitted Prof Pankaj Malhotra, Department of Internal Medicine, PGI, is not good, with the trend clearly indicating that the virus is more infectious and infections likely to go up more. “This is with the understanding that 40 per cent don’t get tested, and so the positivity rate is higher. Many young people are also getting infected and the death rate is higher in people above 50 and with co-morbidities,” he said.

Dr Zafar Ahmed, Senior Consultant, Critical Care, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, observed that rising fatality is a reflection of multiple issues. The rapid increase in number, he says, is straining the medical infrastructure acutely which had not yet recovered from the last wave.

Shortage of beds, especially critical care beds, leads to suboptimal treatment or delayed treatment. Moreover, the unavailability of ICU services in peripheries including major cities forces patients to be shifted to higher centers which are concentrated in some areas. The transportation worsens the condition of the patients and accounts for many deaths.

The shortage of skilled manpower, including trained doctors and nurses to manage sicker patients, he says, needs mention. “We have not learnt from last year’s experience. Most of the Covid patients are being managed by paramedical staff and doctors with no true experience. We are all forced for this in this situation of epidemic world over. Now that this situation is a long- term and of repetitive nature we need to plan ahead. Shortages of medicines and medical equipment are also adding to the increasing care issues,” said Dr Ahmed.

He added that the nature of the second wave also seems aggressive with symptoms which are rapid and multi-systemic. Patients have more non-pulmonary symptoms like gastrointestinal, neurological and cardiac symptoms, hence late suspicion of Covid and therefore late treatment and worsened initial condition is more common. “Moreover, the current initial presentation is also very aggressive and patients are rapidly deteriorating in the initial period only. More young patients are now getting affected. However, admission is still common in the above 50 age group only. Early recognition of warning signs at individual levels and appropriate early treatment is the key to prevent worsening and ultimately preventing deaths,” he summed up.

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