BENGALURU: Even though the number of Covid-19 cases are rising, the disease is less severe this time, according to members of the tele-ICU team that monitors high-risk Covid patients in the state. Dr Anoop Amarnath, Head, Scientific Board and Chairman-Geriatric Medicine, Manipal Hospital, who is part of the team, said that the case severity was not high as people were getting tested in time, as compared to the first wave in the state. There is less stigma attached to seeking medical help, he said.
“Last time, we saw very serious cases in the ICU, as patients came in late owing to the stigma and delayed testing,” said Dr Amarnath, adding that the robust testing infrastructure has helped.Health Commissioner Dr Trilok Chandra, who heads the Covid-19 Critical Care Support Unit, said though the number of patients in the ICU was increasing, the case fatality rate was under control. “People come in earlier. Increased testing is helping us treat them earlier as well. However, those who succumb to the illness, including patients with comorbidities, came in late,” Dr Chandra said.
As of April 8, there are 357 patients in ICUs and the mortality rate is 1.22 per cent, the lowest since July 2020. However, some experts have a different opinion on the matter. Dr Pradeep Rangappa, Consultant, Intensive Care Unit, Columbia Asia Hospital, who is also part of the tele-ICU team, said he had seen patients who were in worse condition in some districts and that it was only a matter of time before the state starts seeing more severe cases. He said it is too early to say the disease is less severe this time.
“Very sick patients are reporting to ICUs in Bengaluru and even in districts such as Hubballi, Hassan and Tumakuru, which is worrying. Their symptoms include shortness of breath, low oxygen saturation levels and the need for high flow nasal cannula (HFNC),” said Dr Rangappa, adding that everyone needs to be on guard. He cited the example of his hospital where the ICU beds were full and they have to use the beds for non-Covid patients.