NEW DELHI: WThe new guidelines on home isolation of COVID-19 patients could have been triggered by reports of many people violating the safety protocols, but the move will now make city residents "apprehensive of getting themselves tested" for possible infection, several experts feel.
As per an order issued on Friday by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, five-day institutional-quarantine has been made mandatory for every COVID-19 patient under home quarantine.
Noted city-based lung surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar on Saturday said it will ramp up the demand for COVID care beds manifold, given the fact that the city government is already trying hard to manage beds to meet the huge projected requirements in view of the escalating cases of COVID-19.
"Also, I do not know what was the rationale behind such a move. The authorities, we assume may have take the decision based on certain inputs but that is not known to us. But, on the face of it, the decision seems to likely weigh heavy on our existing overburdened healthcare infrastructure," he told PTI.
Kumar, who works at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here, also asked where will the manpower come to attend to those patients.
"The institutional quarantine has to be accompanied with institutional patient care. Let's say 100 beds are laid in a community hall, and even those patients brought there may be asymptomatic or patients with mild symptoms, condition of some of them may deteriorate, and that has to be spotted timely and managed.
At home, at least someone is there to look after the patient," he said.
"We are struggling to add beds, how are we going to look after those patients.
And this will also discourage people from getting tested, and they will remain at home even if they have mild symptoms," Kumar said.
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospital here echoed Kumar's views.
"This will definitely make people apprehensive of getting themselves tested. People should be given choices to either stay at home or go for institutional quarantine, but it can't be imposed on them," he said.
Chatterjee, however, said those who do not have proper facilities at home to get self-isolated or are living alone and have no care-givers, should go to institutional quarantine.
"But fear among people will be there now even if they are not showing symptoms or mildly symptomatic from the infection they may have contracted by virtue of their jobs or something, and so they will now dither on going for testing," he said.
Also, our heathcare infrastructure is already burdened and sending all such people out to COVID care facilities will lead to overwhelming of our heathcare system, the senior doctor said.
Dr Manoj Goel, Director & Head, Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, however feels people must cooperate with the government in this collective war against COVID-19.
"If the government has taken such a decision, it must have weighed in various factors. There were various reports of people roaming around even though they were on home quarantine, especially asymptomatic ones.
How many people can you monitor, and these people by going out were spreading the infection," he said.
Goel said while few months of the lockdown has already been imposed, it can't be done for extensively longer duration, and it is people who must show discipline in fighting this pandemic.
"But if people are not listening and going out and transmitting the infection, then steps have to be taken," he added.
Asked if it will have an impact on psyche of people in getting themselves tested, he said, "If people feel apprehensive and just sit at home and not get themselves tested if showing symptoms, then they will be harming their near and dear ones and their neighbours only." "So I would say every person has to feel like a soldier in this COVID war and comply with what authorities have been asking them to do," Goel said.
The Delhi government on Friday, soon after the order was issued by the Lt Governor, had said that it was an "arbitrary decision" and will "seriously harm" the national capital.
In a statement, it had also pointed out that Delhi already has a "serious shortage" of doctors and nurses to provide care for COVID-19 patients here and asked where would the extra manpower come from.
The Delhi government has urged that the decision should be reconsidered.
This move will also discourage many people from getting tested and "spread corona" further as asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms will resist testing, the statement said.