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Coronavirus in Tamil Nadu: Why home isolation is a challenge for doctors | Chennai News

CHENNAI: After the state and the Centre introduced home isolation, more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients who are either pre-symptomatic or have mild symptoms are recuperating at home.
Medical experts say that while for the patient it is the best and a low cost way of recovering, for hospitals it saves manpower and resources that can focus on severely ill patients needing emergency care. After private hospitals began recommending patients on home isolation, government hospitals followed suit as the cases surged in the state.
With a majority of cases being asymptomatic or involving people with mild infections, it is also throwing a challenge on the medical system for effective remote tracking and monitoring their health status. With more than 10,600 active cases in the state as on Tuesday, public health officials said nearly 10% of them are now isolated at home, a majority of whom are from Chennai.
“With asymptomatic people included, we know 90% of the people do not require hospitalisation. It’s only a small percentage that require hospitalisation and even smaller percentage that require ICU. So if we start loading hospital system with low risk patients then where will high risk patients go? So it makes sense for us to start putting in a triage so only those who really require medical help will stay in a medical facility and other can be handled at home or in a quarantine system,” said Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, infectious diseases expert.
Besides following other guidelines issued by the state government and ICMR, experts said one of the ways to self-monitor health status would be to use a pulse oximeter than can check the levels of oxygen saturation in the body.
However, remote monitoring of these patients is becoming difficult, particularly in a private hospital setup, given the rising number of cases. “After we recommend a patient for home isolation, we coordinate with the city corporation who sends health workers every day to track the health status. We also contact them from our control room. It is a big challenge and a tedious process,” said Dr Vasanthmani P, dean, KMC hospital. “Earlier all medical colleges were admitting all symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. As the government of India and WHO guidelines changed, we started identifying people for home isolation,” she added.

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