Whether it is omicron or delta, a battle with Covid has been in progress for almost two years. A difficult period for everybody throughout the world. Unfortunately, many valuable lives have been lost. The hospitals in Bengal, whether government or corporate, have been waging a relentless war in this regard. However, active participation and cooperation seem to be lacking from the common people, which is unfortunate. The state government has also cancelled or postponed many events in this regard. Time has come to take definitive steps in this regard.
All the three waves so far have taken gigantic proportions in a different way. The first wave reached a peak with 97,860 cases on September 16, 2020. The second wave exceeded the first with a peak of 4,14,280 cases on May 6, 2021. The government of India is expecting the third wave to reach a record of 15 lakh cases daily if this situation continues. Such is the magnitude.
Nationally, the new cases recorded on Saturday were 1,41,986 and Bengal has reported 18,802 new cases.
One of the medical colleges has reported more than 300 health workers, including doctors, with Covid, whereas another medical college in Calcutta has reported around 200 cases, which is alarming.
In this abnormal situation, it is really difficult to provide proper service which needs to be adequately understood.
An approved corporate organisation which was doing 30 to 50 RT-PCR tests daily is now doing around 300 tests daily with reduced staff.
Although, it is true that the mortality is low, around 0.2 per cent, the number of cases are plenty.
The situation is such that definitive action is warranted. If any person is having symptoms like cough, cold, fever, body ache, breathing difficulty, low oxygen saturation or loss of smell and taste must be treated as a Covid patient irrespective of the Covid report, which may take one or two days to come.
The government has quite rightly decided to provide booster dosage to both health workers and people with comorbidities.
They have been the worst affected during the third wave.
Also, an adequate decision has been taken about elective and emergency cases. Emergency cases must be accepted and surgeries done adequately.
Elective cases can wait unless any emergency crops up.
If cancer cases are taken into account, ideally it must be divided into three groups. Those recently diagnosed and are in need of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy should ideally start treatment with consultation with the oncologist in three or four weeks. Those undergoing any cancer-related therapy should continue with consultation with the oncologist. Cancer patients who are on follow-up may wait for some time until new symptoms develop.
In general, the local oncologist must be consulted whenever feasible.
Seldom has the situation been so challenging during the past waves. Although affected by Covid during the first wave, my fight in the third wave has been most difficult.
Many of my colleagues, both doctors and health-care workers, are badly affected by Covid. Skilled manpower is at an extreme shortage.
In spite of all, there is really no option but to operate operable cancer cases as required. Our outpatients department is running as usual in these trying times. We can definitely take care of cancer but the issue of Covid before and after admission is difficult. Precautions for all at home and elsewhere is a must.
Whatever be the situation, all our health-care workers and doctors who are not affected by Covid are working overtime to tide over this unusual and extreme crisis.
Doctors, health-care professionals, patients and the common people need to fight out the third wave together. Cooperation of all is mandatory and we really appeal for it.
Acceptance and adaptation is probably necessary in situations that are not under any control.
Adequate hand sanitiser, masks and social distancing need to be followed diligently. Any crowded place should be avoided. So far as procedures are concerned, no assurance regarding Covid can be given after hospital admission.
In this situation, some delays in getting routine investigations and procedures need to be taken in the right spirit.
Currently, home isolation has been reduced to seven days for asymptomatic patients. For admitted cases the requirement of ICU is less. It is unfortunate when it was reported that paracetamol used for fever and body pain is now off the shelf. Prescriptions are necessary for any medicine purchase, which should be the usual norm.
Although the third wave is milder, precautions should be taken adequately.
Any dereliction may be dangerous.
It is probably wise to reduce the panic. The way the doctors and health workers are performing is really exemplary. In spite of limitations, the entire health system is up to the task.
They need to be lauded. However, they will need active cooperation from the common people.
Dr Gautam Mukhopadhyay is secretary of the Bengal Oncology Foundation and clinical director of the department of surgical oncology, Peerless Hospital