The Corona pandemic which has claimed over 400,000 lives and threatening more has taken a heavy toll on the healthcare infrastructure in the city. Amphan’s devastation coupled with the imminent onset of monsoon, Kolkata is possibly poised for even more trying times ahead.
While the Corona crisis is yet to be hemmed in, the seasonal onslaught of Dengue is already here. This will pose a big problem as more often than not patients develop Dengue Hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and require blood platelet replacement to raise the blood count to manageable levels. Ever since the lockdown in face of the Corona crisis, there is a severe shortage of human blood as healthy people are not coming forward to donate blood at designated institutions for the fear of breaking social distancing norms. Also health workers are hesitant to collect blood from donors over concerns that they could be asymptomatic carriers of the Corona virus.
We need to communicate strongly that the Corona virus does not spread through blood as it is entirely transmitted through droplets in human phlegm. And if healthcare workers are adequately protected and follow proper hygienic methods of blood collection, there is little chance of contracting nCovid19. Also the donors must realize that there is no danger of carrying any strain of the virus in blood, hence they are welcome to donate. And they should for the greater social good.
The situation today is definitely challenging from the point of view of healthcare delivery. While healthcare units are weary of receiving patients who show any kind of symptoms that resemble those found in persons infected with the corona virus. Hence people with fever or even mild cough and cold are being turned away from hospitals and healthcare institutions that do not have adequate infrastructure to deal with the virus or protecting housed patients and their own healthcare staff.
The situation obviously is grimmer for people with heart problems and need emergent care.
At our own institution where we treat cancer patients, the concerns are even more acute. The lockdown and social distancing imperatives have compelled us to recalibrate our infrastructure with the result fewer patients are being accommodated in wards meant for more. In fact we have reduced the number beds in wards to half.
This is putting considerable strain on our finances as well because we are committed to treating patients at costs which are far below what private cancer hospitals charge.
Returning to normal activities is indeed a challenge. Besides, the communication and awareness programmes on the Corona pandemic today are severely tilted towards professing doom. This is creating widespread panic which is hitting hard healthcare dispensation across the country. This spreading panic must stop.
Corona is not a monster. It is like any other flu, except that it is new and hence not much is yet known about its behaviour. However, it is quite clear that is a droplet infection and not airborne. So maintaining good hygiene, doing simple exercises, consuming healthy food and increasing our immunity will help us fight the virus fairly easily. The fact that a very small percentage of people are getting affected, even less getting severely diseased, maintaining healthy lifestyles is imperative to defeat the virus.
It is true the virus is less generous towards the old and the infirm. Hence the elderly need to be protected and kept away from the virus to the extent possible. The young, the strong and the healthy will help develop herd immunity in a situation where community transmission seems to have kicked in.
(as told to liveafter60.com)
Dr. Arnab Gupta is the Director of the Saroj Gupta Cancer Center & Research Institute, Thakurpukur, Kolkata, and also a Professor at its Department of Surgical Oncology. He is an MBBS from Calcutta National Medical College, an FRCS from the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, an FRCS ad eundem from the Royal College of Surgeons, England, and an FIAGES (Fellow of Indian Association of GI Endosurgeions).
He worked in UK for 6 yrs in different Hospitals including Manchester Royal Infirmary, Blackpool Victoria Infirmary, Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital (London).
With several publications and presentations, he is a member of several prestigious medical and academic associations both nationally and internationally. You can reach Dr. Arnab at email@example.com, or leave a comment below.
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