Coronavirus | Bengaluru seeing spurt in deaths in June

Recovery rate has seen a dip; 13 of the 23 COVID-19 deaths in the city were reported in last 11 days

June 11, 2020 11:38 pm | Updated June 12, 2020 07:19 am IST - Bengaluru

Barricaded:  A road in Kalidasa Layout in Bengaluru that was sealed on Thursday after a COVID-19 case was detected.

Barricaded: A road in Kalidasa Layout in Bengaluru that was sealed on Thursday after a COVID-19 case was detected.

Although Bengaluru has a recovery rate of 51.4% among COVID-19 patients, the death rate of 3.95 here — the highest in the State among the districts — has raised concerns. The State’s average is 1.15%. This average excludes the death of two positive patients owing to non-COVID cause. Kalaburagi follows Bengaluru with the death rate of 1%.

There has been a sudden rise in the number of deaths in Bengaluru since June 1. According to the State health bulletin, 23 people, of the total 581 positive cases in the city as on June 11, have succumbed to the infection. Thirteen of these deaths occurred in the last 11 days. This is apart from another death of a positive patient owing to non-COVID reason.

What is also worrying is that the recovery rate in Bengaluru has also come down from 64.7% on May 31 to 51.4% as on June 11. While 70 people have recovered during this period, 224 people have tested positive.

Reasons for mortality

Doctors treating COVID-19 patients in the designated hospitals attribute the deaths to late reporting and late referral by other hospitals apart from severe comorbidities. It is expected for the deaths to go up as the number of positive cases increase, they said.

Uncontrolled diabetes with sugar levels above 400 has been a common factor among all the deaths. The State’s Expert Committee on Death Analysis of COVID-19 cases headed by S. Sachidanand, Vice-Chancellor of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), has so far analysed 42 of the total 72 deaths. In Bengaluru, 16 of the 23 deaths have been analysed.

Based on the analysis done so far, the committee has recommended to the State government that health education should be aggressive on early reporting by those who develop symptoms, especially the aged.

“Mortality rate among patients who are aged above 60 is higher when compared with that of the rest of the population. As monsoon has already set in, people may ignore respiratory symptoms assuming it to be common cold. Surveillance should be stepped up and it is important that people get tested as soon as they develop influenza like illness (ILI) or SARI symptoms,” Dr. Sachidanand told The Hindu on Thursday.

Asymptomatic cases

With over 96% of cases being asymptomatic, the committee has also recommended that measuring oxygen saturation should be taken up just like BP checks. “We have recommended that pulse oxymeters be made available in all health facilities, especially in rural areas,” he said.

President of the Karnataka Pulmonologists Association K.S. Satish, who is also part of the expert committee, said among the 16 deaths in Bengaluru that have been analysed so far, not a single death was without any comorbidity.

“While all the deaths were of those who were aged above 55, we were surprised about a 32-year-old patient’s death as he was the youngest among the lot. But on analysis, we found that he was not just immunocompromised but also addicted to smoking and alcohol. Another 39-year-old, did not have any other comorbidity but he collapsed owing to a heart attack,” Dr. Satish said and added that almost all the patients who died reported with fever, chills, and breathlessness.

Obesity a factor too

According to a doctor in the COVID-19 ward at Victoria Hospital, obesity is also an important factor that deteriorates the health of a COVID-19 patient.

Recalling the first death in the ward on April 13 of a 65-year-old male SARI patient, the doctor said: “The patient weighed 130 kg and it was difficult to move him. With PPE on, the ICU staff found it difficult to ventilate him. At least five of the patients who died in Victoria were obese.”

Six deaths in Victoria Hospital?

Although six persons are said to have succumbed to COVID-19 in the ICU of the Emergency and Trauma Care Centre at Victoria Hospital from Wednesday night to 5 p.m. on Thursday, the State health bulletin recorded only two Bengaluru deaths.

While doctors in the hospital said they had reported all the deaths to the department, a senior health official said only two had been reported and they were included in the bulletin.

Sources in the hospital said all, including a 35-year-old male who collapsed in the ICU and died and a 45-year-old woman, had comorbidities. While four were referred from Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, two were referred from private hospitals.

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