'Karnataka CM should first socially distance himself'

'Karnataka CM should first socially distance himself': Doctors attending meeting over COVID-19

Ensure that social distancing and social isolation is strictly enforced, which is not being done, doctors said

CM B S Yediyurappa (Photo by S K Dinesh/DH Photo)

Representatives of around 20 private medical establishments, who attended a meeting with Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on steps to contain COVID-19, have divided responsibilities between what the government needs to do and what the hospitals need to do. 

The meeting started at 11 am and went on till 1 pm. Key areas of concern that need to be fast tracked include - how the private sector can partner with the government, areas of contingency, and an urgent need of maintaining a database of nurses and lab technicians - were among the things discussed at the meeting.  

Dr Devi Shetty, founder of Narayana Health, Dr Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman, Manipal Hospitals, Dr Nagendra Swamy, Manipal Hospital, Dr Nitish Shetty, CEO, Aster Hospital, Dr Naresh Shetty, MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, Dr Alex Thomas, President, Association of Healthcare Providers of India, representatives of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, representatives of Apollo Hospitals and Fortis Hospitals, HCG Hospitals, Dean of St John's Medical College, among others were present.   

Ensure that social distancing and social isolation is strictly enforced, which is not being done, doctors said. "Projects are on as usual, people are socially interacting. This is not done. The CM who calls for a meeting has to first socially distance himself to show the world. He is an elderly person in his 70s but who is advising him? There are 70 media persons surrounding him to take a photo. Is that the meaning of social distancing?" questioned Dr Vishal Rao, who was a part of the meeting as a representative of HCG Cancer Hospital, to suggest measures to be taken for cancer patients.

Doctors also suggested that along with health and urban development department, home department has to play a key role in ensuring social isolation. "With the first case detected, we know that at least three per cent of the population has been infected already. That is what the World Health Organisation tells us. The crude fatality rate of COVID-19 is 3% to 6%. The Spanish Flu that hit us one century back had a crude fatality rate of 2.5%. So you are dealing with a much more lethal virus. This virus is going to kill double the number," Rao cautioned.

Doctors also suggested that nurses and technicians are the backbone of the response system in addition to the doctors. "Right now, when there is a death in the hospital due to a respiratory illness or an arrest, and people call 104, they are saying it is pneumonia, so it does not fall under the classical pattern of COVID-19 symptoms," Rao revealed.  

On being pointed out that the ICMR has expanded its testing criteria to test all patients with severe acute respiratory illness notwithstanding travel history to COVID-19 affected countries, Rao said, "I am on the institutional ethics committee of ICMR. Those rules are on paper. For example, till date there has been no testing in Kalaburagi lab, for example. First the real time PCR machine wasn't there, after that came, there were no reagents. After the reagents were provided, there was no technician. After the technician came, they said, he wasn't trained by the ICMR. While government orders are there, ground reality is a disaster."

The CM suggested starting around 30 fever clinics where preliminary check ups can be done. "Private hospitals have come forward to spare the services of doctors and clinical staff working in their hospitals. They have agreed to spare more than 100 ventilators. We have decided to create a separate block of 1200 beds at Victoria and another 1200 will be pooled up at a private hospital. Looking at the gravity of the situation, the Government has decided that all non-essential services and commercial establishments would be shut down till 31 March 2020 in nine districts. For the poor who depend on their daily wages for livelihood, food will be provided free of cost through Indira Canteens," CM BS Yediyurappa said.

From a cancer perspective, attenders and caregivers of cancer patients were advised to maintain complete sterility and minimum social contact. Patients on the other hand are being asked to maintain plenty of nutrition, fluids and good breathing. "This sort of feel calling facility can be set up at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology. At HCG, we are checking caregivers' temperature and travel history. We are contacting patients through WhatsApp, Zoom, and other platforms to encourage outreach to our patients to inform them not to come for follow-ups. In case a dressing needs to be done, we're encouraging them to take help of videos to avoid unnecessary crowding at hospitals," Rao said.  

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