Days after Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik tested positive for Covid-19, and was administered the first cycle of plasma on Monday, the Goa government on Friday admitted for the first time the critical nature of his case, calling it a return from the “doors of death”.
State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told the media, “He (Naik)…virtually had gone into the doors of death and (has) come back.”
Doctors said Naik is now stable and recuperating at private Manipal Hospital, where he was admitted by August 14 – after testing positive on August 12, the minister had tweeted, “…it [test report] has turned out asymptomatically positive. My vitals are within normal limits and I have opted for home isolation.”
According to doctors in the team treating Naik, he is one of the “first VVIPs” to be administered with the plasma treatment. They confirmed receiving a phone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instructing them to “give the best medical response possible” to Naik.
Like others, Naik was first administered with a dose of remdesivir, though it didn’t show the “much-needed improvement”, an official said. As his condition worsened, with oxygen saturation dipping to 92 per cent and urgently dropping – saturation below 95 per cent is said to be serious – Health Department officials said Naik was administered the first cycle of plasma on Monday. With plasma, he reached saturation levels of 96, allowing other responses possible, doctors said.
A team of three doctors from AIIMS in Delhi was flown in to keep a watch on him.
Three other political leaders in Goa, including former chief minister Ravi Naik, have also been admitted to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19. All three are stated to be stable.
Meanwhile, Goa Medical College (GMC), the apex hospital in charge of treatment of Covid-19 in the state, has now scaled up efforts to get plasma from recovered patients, as they are facing a shortage for “similar situations”, officials said.
The Directorate of Health Service (DHS) has made an appeal, “taking Naik’s example”, and urged recovered patients who had suffered pneumonia-like conditions during their infection cycle to donate plasma.
Plasma of those who had pneumonia-like conditions during Covid-19 have the best antigens.
According to officials there are at least 1,000 such patients in Goa, but only 61 have till date donated their plasma. “Of the total donated plasma, only 14 packets are left. We are appealing those who have recovered to come forward and help us,” GMC Dean, Dr Shivanand Bandekar, said.
According to DHS officials, an increase in plasma stock will ensure the state can stock up on remdesivir, which they fear they will soon fall short of.
The GMC has also reached out to BJP MLA Clafasio Dias, the first legislator to test positive for Covid-19, to donate plasma. Dias was in critical state and finally discharged from hospital on August 9.
Another crucial problem, Health officials said, is to get patients to reach hospitals sooner, as deaths in the last one week have shown patients delayed approaching hospitals by an average 10 days, making it difficult for even the “remdesivir and plasma” combination to come to their rescue.
Asked about Naik’s push for arsenicum album, the homeopathic drug being touted as immunity-booster against Covid-19, Health Minister Rane on Friday said, “Let’s be humane on this. Shripad Naik is a very good human being. He fell ill…the decision for Arsenic has nothing to do with his life. Use of arsenicum album was never mandatory. It was nothing but immunity-booster…. We must all pray for his fast recovery.”
Naik was expected to launch a web campaign, titled “Ayush for immunity”, on August 14 when he was hospitalised.
With next week expected to see Ganesh festivities, the state’s health machinery is up against a huge challenge. Rane confirmed that Goa is facing a shortage of nurses, as they now require experienced nurses in ICUs, and at least one nurse for every four beds in Covid facilities.
The coastal state till date has had 13,099 confirmed coronavirus cases, of which a large number are asymptomatic patients. According to officials, 294 patients are critical and are now admitted in three Covid facilities in the state: GMC, ESI, and Ponda Hospital.