Of the 187 COVID-19 deaths analysed by state medical officials, 82 per cent or 155 of them were found to have co-morbidities, or underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problem or a kidney ailment.
State Survelliance Officer Pradeep Awate said the system of isolating co-morbid patients has been successfully implemented in countries like Japan. “We have so far analysed 187 COVID-19 deaths that have taken place in Maharashtra. Of these cases, 155 patients had co-morbidity. This means 82 per cent of them had pre-existing illnesses while even in the remaining 18 per cent, some of them were above 60 years of age, which has already been designated as a high-risk group,” he said.
“It is seen that COVID-19 patients who do not have other illnesses are recovering… but COVID-19 patients with co-morbidities are quickly deteriorating. All our attention should now shift towards co-morbid patients to reduce the rising death rates. I have already shared the information with top state officials,” said Awate.
Armed with these facts, the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation have both decided to identify non-coronavirus patients who have co-morbid conditions, and treat them on top priority. The civic officials said co-morbid patients will be urged to home-quarantine themselves to keep coronavirus at bay and seek immediate medical help even if they have mild symptoms.
“…There is no need to get extra space and beds for quarantining those patients who have no health issues but are asymptomatic or suffer from mild symptoms of coronavirus… The deaths of co-morbid patients at Sassoon General Hospital reveal that our surveys need to focus hard on identifying co-morbid patients, isolating and getting them treated on priority,” Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told The Indian Express on Saturday.
Gaikwad said the PMC will carry out an extensive survey across the city to find those with underlying health conditions. “Our surveys are already underway to identify those who suffer from various ailments like cold, fever, cough and sore throat. Identifying co-morbid patients will remain on top of our agenda,” he said.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said civic officials were already trying to trace co-morbid patients in containment zones. “During our house-to house surveys in sealed areas, we tried to locate those with co-morbid conditions. Now, we will try to trace such patients across the city.”
“We will first identify and explore various options like home quarantine or institutional quarantine for co-morbid patients,” he said.
However, PCMC health department chief Dr. Anil Roy pointed out that nearly 20 per cent of the population had underlying health conditions. “There are practical difficulties in isolating lakhs of people who suffer from co-morbidity. If we are going to home-quarantine those who have pre-existing illnesses, then who will work… as every fifth person has a co-morbidity.”
Dr. Roy, however, urged those with underlying health conditions to seek medical treatment immediately even if they had mild symptoms. “Any delay is proving costly for them. Every family should take responsibility in this regard. The civic body can reach their doorsteps once or twice, but it is impossible to reach them everyday. The civic bodies at best can create awareness about co-morbid patients,” he said.
Dr. Anand Jagdale, former chief of Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital, said in Italy, 90 per cent of those who had died of COVID-19 had high blood pressure. “It is crystal clear. The government should focus on co-morbid patients as their death rate is high. Involve private experts to treat such patients and don’t such rely on government doctors alone.”
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