Delhi home isolation cases monitored from Bangalore
Around 100 people armed with a phone – most sitting in the comfort of their homes in Bangalore – are helping the Delhi government monitor the health of around 9,500 Covid-19 patients who are presently in home isolation in the capital.
With the rising number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Delhi, the Union health ministry came up with guidelines for home isolation at the end of April. The challenge was to ensure that the symptoms of the patients confined to their homes did not worsen.
Initially, district officials called those under home isolation in their areas each day to check on their health. To ease their workload, the Delhi government contracted the Bangalore-based home healthcare company Portea Medical on April 30.
Once a person tests positive, a two-member district health team visits him or her at home to check their symptoms and the facilities available for home isolation.
Only those with mild symptoms such as low-grade fever or sore throat and no comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney disease are allowed to remain in home isolation.
Comorbid conditions are known to increase the risk of a person developing severe symptoms of Covid-19. Even then, home isolation will only be allowed if the patients have adequate facilities such as a separate room and toilet for the person who tests positive for the infection. And if the others in the family do not have severe comorbidities.
“Once we get the numbers of the people who have been advised home isolation, our team calls them up to check what their symptoms are – whether they have fever, any uneasiness, who all are living with them. All this data gets recorded. After that, our team calls them up once everyday to check how they are doing,” said Meena Ganesh, chief executive officer of Portea.
The dos and don’ts are communicated over the telephone during the first two days.
“It is essential to thoroughly explain these things to each patient and the caregiver. There can be queries and confusion. For instance, the caregiver has to take the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine – 400 mg twice a day on day 1 followed by one tablet every week for three weeks. Most people do not know about the dosage. They need to be explained in an organised way – like the way a doctor usually does when medicines are prescribed. These are areas where the professionalism of the consultant helps,” a Delhi government official said.
The patients are provided a number on which they can call in case they have any problems.
“When we receive a call from the patients, there are two things that we can do. One, we can provide consultation from a Delhi government-empanelled doctor on our portal. The doctor already has access to the information that we have collected over the days. Two, if the doctor thinks that there is a need for intervention, then the team gets in touch with the health officials in Delhi,” Ganesh said.
They coordinate with the district surveillance teams and medical staff under the government’s health department to ensure that the patient is moved to a hospital.
“From what we have seen so far, only about 7% of those who have been put under home isolation need to be moved to a hospital. The rest can recover on their own at home,” Ganesh said.
The team follows the person who tests positive for the coronavirus for 17 days of home isolation, after which they are considered to have recovered.
During the spell in home isolation, the patients must wear a triple-layer mask at all times and discard it after eight hours of use or when visibly dirty or moist. The mask has to be disinfected using 1% hypochlorite solution.
The caregiver also has to wear a triple-layer mask when in the same room as the patient and use disposable gloves when handling the infected person.
The caregiver must also avoid contact with contaminated items such as cigarettes, eating utensils, dishes, drinks, used towel and bed linen used by the patient, according to the government’s home isolation guidelines.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday again urged people with mild symptoms to stay at home so that hospital beds may remain free for those with moderate to severe symptoms in need of hospitalisation.