Severe Acute Respiratory Infection, a condition in which a person faces breathing difficulties, has been seen to be the biggest risk for COVID-19 patients in Karnataka. The risk increases if the person also happens to be over 60 years of age, an analysis of COVID19 deaths in the state shows.
A very small proportion of the COVID-19 patients in the state had severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), just 75 out of the 6,275 positive cases till now. But amongst those who had, the mortality is very high.
Of the 72 COVID-19 patients who have died in the state so far, at least 30 were also suffering from SARI, which has been found to be the most common co-morbid condition amongst the deceased.
Of the total positive cases, 344 are those who are above the age of 60, of which 28 also had SARI. Eighteen of them have died.
“The numbers show that about 65 per cent (18 out of 28) of those above 60 years of age who are Covid positive die if they have SARI. Hence, persons who are elderly and who have comorbidities or who have SARI must reach Covid hospitals at the earliest,” said Munish Moudgil, the IAS officer in-charge of the state Covid-19 war room.
The average time spent at a hospital by persons who have died in Karnataka was only about 3.5 days indicating that they were being diagnosed and treated at a late stage, he said.
“Most of the deaths happen when there is a delay in getting the infected elderly or persons with SARI and other symptoms to the designated hospitals. Once they reach the hospital, then the best care will be given,” Moudgil said.
Karnataka has been following a policy of aggressively identifying cases of SARI and Influenza Like Illnesses (ILI) at an early stage as part of efforts to prevent Covid19 mortalities and intensive care requirements, after early evidence had revealed that mortalities were high in these categories of Covid 19 cases.
ILI cases have, however, not been found to be as dangerous as SARI cases. Only six patients, among the 74 who had also been diagnosed with ILI, have died. Only one of them was above the age of 60.
In early May the Karnataka health department had instructed 651 fever clinics in the state which were designated to Covid 19 cases to procure pulse oximeters to determine oxygen saturation levels of patients reporting breathlessness, as a means to detect SARI and influenza cases early, and to test for the coronavirus among these patients.
“It’s being noted that many ILI and SARI cases manifest themselves only as breathlessness and cough, which are missed during screening and may turn out to be positive in later stages,” the director of health and family welfare Om Prakash Patil said in an order dated April 30.
“All the ILI and SARI cases with less than 95 per cent peripheral oxygen saturation should be subjected for Covid 19 swab test,” the health department said.
“COVID-19 containment activities need to be targeted in districts reporting COVID-19 cases among SARI patients. Intensifying sentinel surveillance for COVID-19 among SARI patients may be an efficient tool to effectively use resources towards containment and mitigation efforts,” scientists from the ICMR Covid Group and the National Institute of Epidemiology said in a recent study on Covid 19 among SARI patients published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
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