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Covid patients in Kolkata seek medical help after turning critical

Price of ignoring infection turns out to be detrimental

Sanjay Mandal | Published 22.01.22, 07:58 AM
Self-testing and no-testing are leading to worsening of the condition of many Covid patients.

Self-testing and no-testing are leading to worsening of the condition of many Covid patients.

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Clots in the lungs, sudden unconsciousness leading to a comatose stage and lung fibrosis.

Several Covid patients are now coming to hospitals in Kolkata with these and other serious complications after being at home without medical supervision for days, said doctors.


Such patients are either not getting tested despite symptoms, getting self-tested at home using rapid antigen kits, which at times give false negative reports, or not seeking medical opinion even after testing positive.

Doctors said such patients are not seeking help assuming they have been infected by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and hence, will get away with a mild disease.

A 74-year-old man from Kasba in south Kolkata had a fever and cough about 15 days back. He and other members of his family tested positive for Covid. He, however, stayed at home and did not consult any doctor.

Two days back, as his cough persisted, the family members took him to a doctor, who advised a CT scan of the lungs. The test revealed damage to the lungs.

“He was admitted to hospital and today he coughed out blood,” said his son.

The doctor treating him said Covid had affected his lungs badly, leading to a blood clot. He is being given blood thinners to dissolve the clot.

“During the second wave, people were getting scared and coming to hospital or consulting a doctor soon after testing positive or having symptoms. But this time, because of the perception that there will be mild symptoms, people are coming to hospital even after two weeks, when they are very ill,” said Ajoy Krishna Sarkar, pulmonologist and head of the critical care unit at Peerless Hospital.

“In the current Covid wave, most patients are either asymptomatic or having mild symptoms. They are apparently infected by Omicron. But we are forgetting that the delta variant is still infecting people,” said Sarkar.

Although the number of daily new cases has come down compared to a week back, the death percentage has gone up.

On Friday, 9,154 new Covid cases were detected in Bengal, according to the state health department. There were 35 deaths. Compared to this, there were 22,645 cases and 28 deaths on January 14.

The Telegraph has reported that self-testing and no-testing are leading to worsening of the condition of many Covid patients.

Public health experts have cited the protocol which says that someone testing negative in a rapid antigen test (RAT) but has symptoms should undergo an RT-PCR test.

“Some people, especially those who are elderly, are reporting late and are having altered conditions of the lungs, revealed in the CT scan. The problem is it is difficult to understand at that stage whether there was a pre-existing lung disorder or the complication is induced by Covid,” said Sarkar.

“If there is a basic X-ray of the chest done in the initial stages of Covid, it would be easier to treat the patient.”

In many cases, patients are coming to the hospital in a critical state after suffering a cardiac arrest, said Saurabh Maji, pulmonologist and critical care expert at the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences. “This is caused by blood clots in the cardiac circulation system.”

He said some patients are having oxygen requirements after five to six days. “So, it is important to keep them under medical surveillance so that they don’t deteriorate from mild to moderate or severe stage,” said Maji.

Doctors said the first week of Covid is crucial and anyone with symptoms like fever and cough should stay under medical surveillance.

“In the initial stages, if it is assessed that a patient's condition will deteriorate from mild to moderate stage, then it is easier to manage,” said Mainak Malhotra, internal medicine and critical care expert at AMRI Hospitals.

“But many people are coming to me after nine or 10 days with complications like secondary infection in the lungs and lung thrombosis. A patient suddenly became unconscious and went into a coma because of low oxygen supply to the lung, caused by Covid,” said Malhotra.

Last updated on 22.01.22, 07:58 AM

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