The quick and the dead


Of the 15,554 covid deaths reported in Bengaluru so far, 1,640 took place at home or en route to the hospital. Was it carelessness?

The number of covid-19 patients who died at home or lost their lives before reaching the hospital for treatment is as high as 1,640, according to data from the Department of Health and Family Welfare. The massive numbers indicate that these patients either took the initial symptoms lightly or did not get guidance from healthcare professionals or from teleconsultants appointed by the government.

Experts also attribute the lack of pulse oximeters to self-monitor low oxygen saturation levels as one of the reasons for these deaths, most of which could have been avoided with early detection and treatment. Although the teleconsultants appointed by the government are supposed to call home isolation patients every day for 14 days, some patients must have also hidden their symptoms for fear of getting hospitalized due to concerns involving medical expenses, say doctors.

A majority of the 1,640 deaths that took place between March 16 and June 25, 2021 (barring four which happened between January 5 and March 5, 2021) were covid

patients who had opted for home isolation or did not get beds in the hospital or covid care centres on time. The common symptoms suffered by these patients were fever, cough and breathlessness. There were around 200 cases that were declared ‘brought dead’ by the hospitals, according to the Health department.

The victims include people from all age groups – children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens. A large number of victims were, however, aged above 60 years. What also stands out is the number of deaths in the age group of 20 to 50, which is over 274. There were close to 450 cases where the patient was healthy as he or she did not suffer from known co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension etc.

Happy hypoxia

Dr Jagadish Hiremath of ACE Suhas Multispeciality hospital in Jigani said that many covid-19 patients tend to take the disease lightly after the symptoms vanish. “Some patients also suffer from what is medically called as happy hypoxia. They continue to feel normal even when their oxygen levels drop to dangerous lows. The drop in oxygen saturation level can affect a range of vital organs including the heart and brain,” he said.

Covid-19 patients, he said, must check their oxygen saturation levels before and after a five-minute walk. “If the oxygen levels are down by 3 to 4 per cent, they have to find a hospital,” he said.

Even in the case of doctors, some of them have driven to hospitals not knowing that their oxygen saturation levels have been less than 90 per cent.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is yet to officially declare the number of deaths among patients who opted for home isolation. Randeep D., Special Commissioner (Health) in BBMP said, “The covid death audit report will be ready by next week. Numbers are not reconciled yet,” he said and added that the report would also give suggestions on how to handle future cases of covid-19 to reduce fatalities.

Earlier in the day, BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta tried to downplay the extent of damage through BBMP’s home isolation policy. He said, “Such deaths are less than 1 per cent of the total people who opted for home isolation. More than 6 lakh cases had opted for home isolation, which constituted around 90 per cent of the total covid-19 cases. Although less than 1 per cent of the people who opted for home isolation have died, the committee will study these deaths and suggest policy changes,” he said.

There is a claim that the home isolation deaths in BBMP zones are just around 900 but the chief commissioner said the report has not been submitted yet.



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Sagar Biswas

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