Stigma causing increase in mortality by COVID-19: AIIMS Director

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Randeep Guleria, AIIMS Director, says 80 percent will have mild infection and less than 5 percent will need ventilators. Image courtesy: IANS
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New Delhi: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria on Thursday said that people with flu-like symptoms are not coming out for check-up due to stigma attached with the viral disease, which is, in turn, resulting in an increase in mortality rate.

"Because of the stigma attached to COVID-19, many patients with flu-like symptoms are not coming to health care facilities. They are coming out when they are breathless, and this is leading to higher mortality," he said.

"We encourage everyone to seek medical help and get tested at the earliest rather than going to the hospital while gasping for breath.

"We need to reach out to these patients who are afraid to come out because of stigma, posing danger to their lives. We should look at how we can support people and families who have COVID-19 and encourage people to come forward," he added.

Dr Guleria appealed to people to show empathy towards patients who have, for some unfortunate reason, contracted the infection.

"Patients are facing a lot of challenges and stigma, which is not justified. It is creating panic. We should rather see them as a symbol of hope and victory," he added.

Alluding to the viral disease which has wreaked havoc in the country, he said: "It (coronavirus) is a disease which is not that serious. 90-95 per cent will eventually recover. 80 percent will have mild infection, less than 5 percent will need ventilators."

Dr. Guleria said that the primary treatment for the disease is supportive in more than 80 per cent of patients, oxygen therapy in 15 per cent of patients, with other methods such as convalescent plasma. "HCQ and other repurposed drugs, and newer drugs are being looked at."

He added, "At various centres, we have started using convalescent plasma that is the blood of COVID-19 patients who have recovered. A large number of patients who have become alright have come forward & volunteered to donate their blood."

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