NEW DELHI: A delay in reporting influenza like illnesses by individuals could lead to more deaths due to COVID-19, the government has warned.
Dr Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, Delhi, which is leading the clinical management of the infection across the country said many individuals are reporting the condition only when they develop severe form of breathlessness.
So far, nearly 700 people have died due to novel coronavirus in the country and the percentage of people who are dying of the infection stands at more than 3.
“We urge people with ILI to report early so that they can be promptly tested and medically managed,” said Dr Guleria, who is also a member of the national task force on COVID-19, in the daily briefing by the government on the outbreak in the country.
The government has asked people with ILI to report themselves in hotspots and large gatherings such as evacuation centres. India currently has 170 hotspots or red zone districts—where community transmission of the disease is believed to be happening to some extent.
He added that while 80 per cent of COVID-19 patients have only a mild form of the disease, 15 per cent need supportive oxygen therapy—apart from some other repurposed drugs—while less than 5 per cent need critical care and ventilation.
“There have been several instances when people have come to health facilities gasping for breath—but by then it's too late,” he said.
Dr Guleria clarified that it's ILI patients in red zones who need immediate medical care so that their chances of survival are higher—in case they develop a severe form of the disease.
An extreme form of breathlessness, mainly due to severe pneumonia, has been recognized as a leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients.
Under the government’s testing criteria—devised by the Indian Council of Medical Research which is the nodal agency for containing the outbreak—people with a history of international travel who develop symptoms, contacts of confirmed patients, healthcare workers with symptoms, hospitalized patients of severe acute respiratory illnesses and people with ILI in hotspot areas are being tested.
So far, over 5 lakh RTPCR tests have been conducted on 4.8 lakh people. The Centre has also declared its intent to do a massive telephonic survey to identify people with ILI so that they can be followed up medically.