KOCHI: Tough times call for tough measures, howsoever inconvenient. However, despite the overdose of Covid-19 awareness programmes through social media and TV, some patients who visit private hospitals with mild symptoms of fever and cold are reluctant to take the Covid test, making it riskier and tougher for doctors and staff on duty. As many as 10-15 patients who visited major hospitals in the city, have refused to undergo the Covid test, forcing the doctors to refer them to Government Medical Colleges.
According to doctors, dengue, and fever cases in out-patient departments have increased compared to the last month. With the grim news of a doctor from a private hospital testing positive on Wednesday doing the rounds, staff and doctors in all hospitals are taking extra precautions.
“It is near impossible to identify Covid cases from just the symptoms, as fever is a basic symptom for malaria and dengue too. We cannot take any chances now, as the number of local transmission cases in the coastal areas and within the city is spiking. Therefore, we do prescribe the Covid test for patients with symptoms of fever and cold, to be doubly sure and rule out risks. However, some patients are reluctant due to various reasons. Without them taking the test, we cannot proceed any further,” said Dr Monu Varghese, a pulmonologist.
Reasons that are cited for refusing the test include the high cost factor involved in undergoing the test, the imagined stigma of others finding out in case tested positive, and the personal apprehension of testing positive. Dr Joseph K of the Internal Medicine and Diabetology Department, Lakeshore Hospital, opined that this is a safety issue and that patients need to be sensible and mature enough to take the test.
“High cost is being quoted as the main deterrent. If not at a private hospital, they have the option to get tested at a government facility. While in some cases, patients express their willingness to undergo a test just to rule out Covid-19, there are also instances when patients flatly refuse to undergo the test”, said Dr Joseph.
Separate fever clinics with specific treatment protocol have been set up by all major private hospitals to treat those with suspected symptoms of Covid. “It is not necessary that patients should show severe symptoms. If any case is missed out by the doctors, at this critical juncture of the pandemic, health workers will get infected,” said a doctor with a major private hospital here.