Kerala may set up field hospitals to fight COVID-19

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Expecting more cases that need hospital isolation in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the state Health department will reconsider the proposal of starting field hospitals. A mini temporary hospital raised to address a serious medical issue, field hospitals are expected to address space constraints and difficulties faced by regular patients arriving at taluk, general and medical college hospitals, where isolation wards have been set up. At the same time, the department also released revised guidelines for testing, quarantine, hospital admission and discharge on Thursday.

“Considering the scenario, cases needing hospital isolation might go up. But our current facilities are inadequate. Thus, district collectors have been instructed to identify suitable locations or buildings to set up field hospitals,” said an officer with the Health department. The state had earlier considered setting up field hospitals when the Union government started to evacuate Indian citizens from China in January.

Revised guidelines
The major highlight of the Health department’s new guideline is advice to patients with mild symptoms not to come to hospitals. Testing is not going to change the clinical course or management of the patient with mild symptoms. “The epidemiology of COVID-19 shows that 75 to 80 percent of the affected develop only mild symptoms. Like any viral infection, this too will subside by itself in a majority of patients. Unwanted exposure to hospitals will act as amplifying centers,” reads an excerpt of the guideline. It also identifies the high-risk groups where severe infection and mortality are seen. The group consists of senior citizens, those with chronic lung, heart, liver or renal diseases, malignancies, pregnancy, post-transplant, hematological disorders, HIV and those on chemotherapy and long-term steroids.

“Three categories have been identified. Category A requires no testing. But for B and C, testing is required,” said Dr. Amar Fettle, state nodal officer, public health emergency of international concern. Category A includes those with low-grade fever/mild sore throat/cough/rhinitis/diarrhea. Category B includes those with high-grade fever or severe sore throat or cough, whereas those with breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, children with influenza-like illness, respiratory distress and worsening of underlying chronic conditions are included in category C.

The hero doc who helped trace patients in Ranni
Chengannur: Accolades are pouring in for Dr. Shambu M, who works at the Ranni Taluk Hospital. Hailed a hero, his intervention helped spot the Italy-returned family who tested positive for COVID-19. Health Minister KK Shailaja had praised Shambu in the assembly on Wednesday. When a patient approached the hospital with fever, Shambu grew suspicious and asked whether the person had returned from any foreign country recently.

As the answer was ‘no’, he asked whether any relative had arrived from abroad recently. This was the turning point for identifying the affected patients. “It is the duty of a doctor to follow the directives of the Health Department. This was no heroism,” he said. His wife, Dr Laya, is working in Alappuzha Government Medical College. Govindakrishnan and Muralikrishnan are their children.

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