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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Delhi: As home isolation numbers swell, medical teams face new challenge

Officials managing home isolation in south, east, central and north districts said they are trying to augment their manpower as the number of patients is significantly higher than the previous Covid surge in November.

Written by Shivam Patel | New Delhi |
Updated: April 21, 2021 7:53:44 pm
Mohali covid deaths, Mohali coronavirus cases, Punjab news, Chandigarh news, Indian express newsAs of Tuesday, over 40,000 patients were under observation at home as compared to nearly 24,500 on November 11 last year, when the previous coronavirus wave hit a peak in the capital. (Representative photo)

An increase in the number of Covid patients under home isolation has stretched district health and medical teams thin, particularly at a time when several healthcare workers are also ill.

Officials managing home isolation in south, east, central and north districts said they are trying to augment their manpower as the number of patients is significantly higher than the previous Covid surge in November.

As of Tuesday, over 40,000 patients were under observation at home as compared to nearly 24,500 on November 11 last year, when the previous coronavirus wave hit a peak in the capital.

In east and north districts, help has been sought from civil defence volunteers to provide oximeters and medical kits to households that have been affected.

In south and central districts, officials said resident welfare associations are helping prepare a list of doctors who can volunteer to provide tele-consultation support.

A medical official in the central district said, “We are seeing many patients in panic right now because they are hearing about the crisis in our hospitals, the lack of oxygen and the number of deaths. Before the recent surge in cases, we faced trouble getting patients to hospitals because they were not willing to go and we used to seek help from the police to shift them. Now, most patients are thinking that they have a better chance of recovery in a hospital.”

District health teams provide medical kits to Covid-19 patients in home isolation through Asha workers or nurses and midwives. The patients are also supposed to receive a call every day to check about their health. Officials in district health teams state that their staff numbers have more or less remained the same for about a year and half as the Covid-19 infections fluctuated.

This time, however, many field workers have either tested positive themselves or have family members who are down with the virus, as per officials. “Some staff have their relatives on ventilator support in hospitals but are on the phone with patients every day, asking them not to panic and stay strong… The physical and emotional toll is immense,” said a central district health official.

A health official from the north district said they are sometimes not able to reach all patients on the same day for providing medical kits due to shortage of manpower. “In urban areas of Delhi, the population density is high and there are about 3-4 Asha workers at most to cater to a particular division in the district… because of the rise in cases, we are sometimes not able to reach everyone on the same day, and also the next day about 100-plus patients are again added to the home isolation list. That causes a build up of pending work, but we are getting some relief with help of civil defence volunteers,” the official said.

Most phone calls made to helplines in east and south districts are about patients requesting hospital beds. Officials said they coordinate with hospitals and Covid care centres (CCC) about availability of beds before sending patients whose oxygen levels have dipped below a certain limit.

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“However, many patients are directly going to the hospital without consulting their district health and medical officials first, the reason behind which may be many — they are either unaware of the system or could not get in touch with us. We investigate each case before recommending hospitalisation, but because many patients are choosing to directly go to the hospitals without consulting us, they face difficulty in finding beds,” said a north district official.

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