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Message to Covid patients at home

Health department sends Whatsapp messages asking patients to look out for breathlessness and a fall in the blood oxygen saturation level
Doctors said if a patient felt out of breath while doing regular activities like going to the washroom or even while lying in bed, he or she should be immediately admitted to hospital

Kinsuk Basu   |   Calcutta   |   Published 25.11.20, 03:33 AM

The health department has started sending WhatsApp messages to those who have tested positive for Covid and have opted for home isolation, telling them, family members and caregivers what to look out for to decide whether one needs hospitalisation.

The message tells a patient the health conditions one should keep a watchful eye on, the first among them being breathlessness and a fall in the blood oxygen saturation level.

Doctors said if a patient felt out of breath while doing regular activities like going to the washroom or even while lying in bed, he or she should be immediately admitted to hospital. 

Doctors treating Covid-19 patients said they had noticed that by the time a patient complained of breathlessness, the oxygen saturation level had dropped below the critical mark.

“A Covid patient must repeatedly check the blood oxygen saturation level with a pulse oximeter at home. If the saturation level is less than 94 per cent, the patient should

be admitted to hospital even if he or she is not having any breathing problem,” said Himadri Chakrabarty, one of the senior doctors leading a team treating Covid patients across government hospitals in North 24-Parganas.

“If the difference between two counts of saturation levels measured by a pulse oximeter, say before and after visiting the washroom, is three per cent, the patient is surely developing hypoxia and needs hospitalisation.”

The WhatsApp message next speaks of a feeling of tightness in the chest — a condition that calls for immediate attention. Doctors said a patient would feel tightness in the chest if the outer covering of the lungs got inflamed.

“The patient needs to be hospitalised immediately so the spread of infection can be arrested,” a doctor said.

The message warns patients and others about a condition when one fails to remain alert and recognise the people around. “In such a situation, the patient needs to be hospitalised immediately,” a health department official said.

Among the other warning signals the message talks about are loss of smell, which happens when the virus hits the olfactory nerve ends, and exhaustion even after the fever has subsided.

“We don’t want patients to land in hospitals in a critical state,” a health department

official said. “The message that is being sent is nothing new. The idea is to warn patients over and over again so they visit hospital in time and the mortality rate is lowered.”

The practice of sending the WhatsApp message started in Salt Lake, Dum Dum, Baranagar and Barasat, all of which are in North 24-Parganas, which has been witnessing a spurt in Covid cases. Between November 21 and 23, the district has registered over 800 positive cases on an average every day, second to Calcutta.

“Steps have been taken to ensure there is no delay in arranging for ambulances and a team of doctors has been kept ready round-the-clock in the district’s Covid control room,” an official said.

“The WhatsApp message that is being sent has five numbers of the control room. A patient’s family can call up the control room any time.”

The message also lays down Dos and Don’ts for caregivers. A caregiver must wear a three-layer mask and disposable gloves and not come in direct contact with any fluid coming out of the patient’s body. He or she must wash hands with soap immediately after taking off the gloves.

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Warning signs

⚫Oxygen saturation level dipping to 94 per cent or below

⚫ Difference between oxygen levels before and after a simple activity is 3 per cent or more

⚫Tightness in chest 

⚫Disorientation 

⚫Loss of smell

⚫Exhaustion a few days after fever subsides

⚫Covid control room numbers for North 24-Parganas: 7605057325, 7605057326, 7605057327, 7605057328, 7605057329

⚫ WhatsApp numbers for sending emergency reports: 7439334624, 7605057324



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