Many COVID-19 patients have low oxygen levels that puts them at risk of complications. In a measure that it hopes will help early detection, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Friday launched an initiative that will allow them to monitor blood oxygen levels and heart rates of patients showing influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in fever clinics.
The initiative, christened ‘Pranavayu’, is aimed at helping patients monitor the progress of ILI to severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), said BBMP’s Special Commissioner (Health) Ravikumar Surpur.
A pulse oximeter is a small device or probe that can be clipped onto a finger for reading of blood oxygen level and heart rate. “With this, it is possible to detect respiratory distress well in advance and start treatment to mitigate the distress, even possibly the use of ventilators. Those who have flu-like symptoms can monitor the oxygen saturation every three-four hours. If the level drops below 90, the patient may be taken to the hospital for clinical intervention,” said Mr. Surpur. After the launch, BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said, “The BBMP doctors at fever clinics will monitor patients using a pulse oximeter. This helps them track patients as they progress from ILI to SARI, especially those with comorbidities.”
The civic body is also raising awareness on the need for people to invest in the device, which according to Mr. Surpur will be important when the lockdown is lifted. “When restrictions are eased, there may be a spike in cases of ILI. If citizens can buy the oximeter and monitor the oxygen saturation levels, it allows for early clinical intervention,” he said.
In a press release, the BBMP stated that the cause for concern in COVID-19 was not simple upper respiratory tract infection which resolves on its own in nearly 85% cases. It is instead the progress of the disease to SARI (15-20%) where the lung functionality is impaired to an extent that patients need external support to sustain respiration.