While proactive treatment protocols, early detection and enhanced testing has helped the state keep the overall case fatality rate (CFR) under 2%, experts and clinicians TOI spoke with said it could have been even lower, had many of the patients been admitted to hospital earlier.
“…Patients ignore early symptoms and allow infection to spread to the lungs. If they come early, they can be monitored, and depending on the condition revealed through X Rays and blood tests, we can administer antiviral drugs and steroids in case of inflammation and take other precautions to prevent deaths,” said Dr S Sacchidanand, vicechancellor of RGUHS, and head of the Covid death audit committee. “But in most of these cases, patients come too late and succumb.”
The government has been working on creating awareness and destigmatising Covid-19, as it feels the fear of being ostracised has resulted in people refraining from reporting symptoms. But late reporting continues to adversely impact pandemic management in the state.
Karnataka reported 2,656 Covid-19 deaths between August 1 and 25, but hospitalisation data for 124 deaths on August 16 is unavailable. And, as of Tuesday, 950 of the 2,532 deaths for which hospitalisation data is available, fall into these three categories together: on the day of admission, a day after hospitalisation and brought dead to hospital or dead at home.
Dr C Nagaraj, director of RGCID and member Covid-19 expert committee, said: “Last minute admission has been a problem, but I think increased awareness and reducing stigma will have their impact and we will see more people coming to us early unlike in the past.”
‘Doctors did not get enough time to save patients’
Pointing out that 30% to 40% of deaths reported at his institute were of patients who died within a day of hospitalisation, Nagaraj said that doctors did not get enough time to save patients.
“Although there has been no study to quantify this, anecdotal observations suggest that people don’t want to get tested, or go to hospital as there’s an inherent bias — even among educated — that the virus will only affect others. We now know that early intervention and oxygen help save lives, but that is not happening because of late admissions,” said Dr Giridhara Babu, member, ICMR task force on research and surveillance.