With the Palwal health department finding that 50% of pneumonia cases being detected at the Civil Hospital are related to Covid patients, the district health department has decided that every person who has symptoms such as breathlessness and chest pain but tests negative for Covid will have to undergo a chest X-ray, followed by a CT scan of the chest if anomalies are found, as a precautionary measure.
“Of the three types of pneumonia — tuberculous, non-tuberculous, and coronavirus related — around 50% are currently found to be caused by coronavirus. To ensure such cases are treated in time, we are sending people who test negative for Covid but have symptoms to get a chest X-ray. If there is ground glass appearance or haziness in that, because of which we suspect pneumonia, we prescribe a CT scan to find the extent of the problem,” said Dr Brahmdeep Singh, Civil Surgeon, Palwal.
“CT scan is invasive in nature and not that economical, so we first prescribe an X-ray, which is done for free. If there are findings like pneumonia in the X-ray, we… prescribe a CT scan. This is free for certain categories of patients, such as those below poverty line (BPL) and Ayushman Bharat card holders,” he said.
For the other patients, officials said, a CT scan at the Civil Hospital costs “around 40% of the market rate” — while the market rate for a scan is around Rs 4,000, that at the Civil Hospital in Palwal has been set at around Rs 1,800.
Keeping in mind the need for chest CT scans of Covid positive patients who are suspected to have contracted pneumonia, the health department has also allocated specific hours — 4 pm to 6 pm — during which those who have tested positive for Covid can undergo testing. All Covid negative persons and routine patients will be permitted to undergo the scan through the rest of the day.
While Palwal has less than 3,000 cases at present, officials said there has been a surge in the last few weeks. While the district recorded around 450 new cases each in July and August, the number of people testing positive this month has already crossed 600.
Dr Singh said that the figure is likely to reach 900 by month-end: “Covid cases in Palwal have increased in September since this is the potential infection spreading month. The temperature is good for the virus to grow and, if it is growing, it will spread. Also, there is no fear in people; they are not following social norms, which is also why cases are spreading. The health department cannot do anything to help in this, we are at the receiving end.”
The department is, however, stepping up efforts to treat patients, focusing also on post-Covid care. To this end, a “post-Covid clinic” has been set up at Civil Hospital to help them deal with the psychological and physical toll of the infection. “One goal is to bring recovered patients back into the mainstream as they have been in isolation for a long time. Second is to counsel them because Covid takes a toll on the mind as well; a psychologist has been appointed to help patients. The third aim is to motivate people, through these OPDs, to donate plasma,” said Dr Singh.
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