‘Senior citizens account for 22.5% of cases in city and 54.3% of deaths’Updated: Jul 14, 2020 01:25 IST
Senior citizens are the most vulnerable to Covid-19, confirms data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Of the 91,457 people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Mumbai till July 11, 22.5% (20,664) were aged 60 years and above. In the same period, of the 5,241 reported deaths in Mumbai, 54.3% (2,847) belonged to the same age group.
Ramdas Chauhan, 71, a resident of Indira Nagar, was admitted to Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital (popularly known as Sion hospital) on June 28 after he tested positive for Covid-19. At the time, he had complained of minor breathlessness but his oxygen saturation was above 95%. Five days later, in the middle of the night, he had to be put on a ventilator because his oxygen levels had dropped to 75%.
Chauhan’s family members blame the hospital for negligence, but the hospital says Chauhan’s underlying ailment – diabetes — aggravated his health condition unexpectedly. “Often, health conditions of senior citizens deteriorate faster within hours of admission, especially among patients with cardiac ailment, diabetes and hypertension. We have seen patients walk normally into the hospital, but within hours of admission, die due to sudden rise in complications,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, in-charge of Sion hospital.
Medical experts say senior citizens are more susceptible to Covid-19 compared to other age groups because of already-weakened immunity. An advisory issued by the Union health ministry reads, “Elderly people are at a higher risk due to their decreased immunity and body reserves as well as multiple associated comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Also, the course of disease tends to be more severe in case of elderlies resulting in higher mortality.”
BMC’s data shows that of the 200 patients between 90 and 100 years of age, 37 have died of the infection (fatality rate: 18.5%). Of the 1,893 Covid-19 patients who were in the age group of 80-90 years, 365 succumbed to the infection (fatality rate: 19.2%). There have been 6,058 patients aged 70 to 80 years, of whom, 928 have died of Covid-19 (fatality rate: 15.3%). Among Covid-19 patients aged between 60 and 70 years (12,513), 1,517 have succumbed (fatality rate: 12.1%).
City doctors say senior citizens are now more vulnerable because lockdown restrictions have been eased and younger members of the household are stepping out, thus increasing the risk of infection.
Dr Pratit Samdani, internal medicine expert at Breach Candy Hospital, said more than 80% senior citizens have comorbidities that make them vulnerable to Covid-19. “Almost 15% [of Covid-positive senior citizens] die mostly because of cytokine storms, when inflammation starts in organs,” he said.
BMC has so far screened 575,476 people who are 60 years old and above across wards and found 2,437 have oxygen saturation below 95%.
“We have isolated hundreds of senior citizens from slums to save them from getting infected in congested chawls. They have been kept in lodges, hotels, schools which has helped save lives,” said Dr Daksha Shah, deputy health officer, BMC.