People with non-Covid-19 conditions avoiding hospital visits fearing infectionReluctance to visit the hospitals fearing Covid-19 infection could be deadly especially for people with pre-existing conditions, say doctors.
Two weeks ago, Pratik Sapkota was not feeling well.
“I had symptoms like fatigue, blurry eyes, weakness and vomiting, however, I didn’t feel like visiting the hospital fearing I might contract Covid-19 there. So I started self-medicating at home,” said 20-year-old Sapkota of Mulpani, Kathmandu. “I thought it was just weakness, so I started taking glucose water and medicines to stop vomiting.”
But self-medicating did not work. Last Sunday Sapkota suddenly fainted and was rushed to the nearby Shankarapur Hospital.
“After reaching the hospital and undergoing multiple tests, I learnt that my sugar level was very high and it could have taken my life, if I were old,” said Sapkota. “After spending a week at the hospital, I am at home now and taking medicines prescribed by the doctors.”
As the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, the general public with health complications, some even with life-threatening conditions, are reluctant to visit the hospitals fearing Covid-19 infection, which, according to doctors, could be deadly especially for people with pre-existing conditions.
“If someone has minor issues like cough, common cold or headache, they could self-medicate at home. However, if the symptoms are completely new to them, it’s better to seek medical attention,” said Dr Arjun Karki.
According to Karki, for those without life-threatening conditions who are afraid of contracting Covid-19, it’s not necessary to visit a hospital as doctors are available on the phone for consultation.
“If a patient starts self-medication without figuring out what they are actually suffering from, it could be dangerous for them,” Karki told the Post over the phone. “People with complications like high or low blood sugar levels need timely medical intervention, or else in worst cases they could lead to multiple organ failure,” he warned.
Amid a steady surge in Covid-19 cases since the past several weeks, a majority of hospitals—both public and private— are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients. And in these hospitals, non-Covid-19 patients are being treated alongside Covid-19 patients.
“We have both Covid and non-Covid patients at our hospital,” a receptionist at Annapurna Neuro Hospital, said, without mentioning her name. “We are also running an Outpatient Department (OPD) however the number of patients visiting for follow-ups and general query is very low.”
Dr Qamran Ansari, a medical officer at Nepal Medical College, said some non-Covid patients do visit the hospital but only in emergency cases like accidents or serious injuries requiring surgery.
“The number of non-Covid patients visiting the hospital is very low. Before the pandemic, around 1,000 people used to visit the hospital daily. But now we get phone calls mostly for Covid-related cases.”
Not just Sapkota, but 24-year-old Sarita who got married last year and is currently 3 months pregnant has not visited any hospital fearing Covid-19.
“I don’t want to put my life and the life of the unborn at risk by visiting the hospital during the pandemic,” said Sarita, who wished to be identified by her first name only. “My mother-in-law has been taking care of me and I am completely fine until now.”
Meanwhile, the Family Welfare Division of the Department of Health Services said 225 maternal deaths were recorded across the country in less than five weeks between March 24 and April 28. Normally, there are fewer than 100 maternal deaths throughout the country in a month, according to the Health Ministry.
Even last year, there were reports that due to the fear of Covid-19, many pregnant women prepared to stay home and stayed home and chose unsafe deliveries, which resulted in dozens of deaths of pregnant women.
The country reported 8,064 new infections in the last 24 hours, according to a government tally released on Wednesday afternoon. The government also confirmed 246 Covid-19 deaths in the same period.
As of Wednesday, the country’s total infections have reached 480,418, of which 114,358 are active cases. The total death toll stands at 5,657.