Experts, however, say this is not an issue of major concern but there is a need for early detection.

 4 out of 8 Bengaluru deaths reported on Thursday were patients without comorbiditiesRepresentational image/PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Friday, June 19, 2020 - 13:17

For the first time since the onset of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic, Bengaluru on Thursday saw multiple COVID-19 deaths with no known comorbidities. As reported earlier, out of the 12 fatalities recorded in the state bulletin on Thursday, eight were patients from Bengaluru and 4 of them had no known comorbidities. Comorbodity is any underlying health condition in a person like hypertension or diabetes etc.

Among them was a 31-year-old man who was admitted in a hospital with influenza like illness (ILI) on June 13 and he succumbed to his illness on Thursday. There was also a case of a 39-year-old patient who succumbed to the disease after he was admitted with ILI symptoms on June 7. 

Similarly, a 40-year-old woman with no comorbidities had died on June 8 after being admitted to a designated COVID-19 hospital on the same day. Another patient was a 57-year-old man who was admitted on June 3 and died on June 6.

Although the increase in fatality among reltaively younger people without comorbidities is worrying, experts and those working closely with the government feel it is primarily due to late referrals or patients acting against the advice of professionals.

Dr Sachinand, Vice Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, who is heading the COVID-19 death audit committee in the state stressed on the need for earlier detection of cases but said the situation is not alarming.

“It’s too early to say if it's a matter of concern. See the general trend is that people above 60 years and with co-morbidities are prone to succumb to this disease. But there can be cases of high viral load, individuals with low immunity. It is not that young people are guaranteed not to die. There can be incidents of late referrals or patients not following medical advice. But there can’t be any generalisation, nor is the health status of two humans alike," he said.

He added, “Although this is not a matter of serious concern, it is important that we ensure early detection of cases. There can be unlikely cases of a patient being asymptomatic and suddenly showing acute respiratory distress symptoms, so we need to have a close look at oxygen saturation levels of patients. Maybe there are different causes to each of these deaths. So let us not draw a conclusion and take it as a matter of concern just yet.”

Dr Trilok Chandra, senior IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer heading the COVID-19 Critical Care Support Committee (patients needing intensive care and ventilator support) said upon further investigation it was found that two among the four had renal issues.  

“But overall you see, late presentation (to hospitals) has been a major worry for us. This needs emphasis and there is a need for people to come to report themselves. We are also trying to be more proactive with our Information, Education and Communication (IEC) programs,” he said. 

He added, “Other than breathing conditions, there are other symptoms too which cannot be overlooked like that of neurological distress or gastrointestinal symptoms, so people with any of these spectrum of symptoms should immediately get themselves checked. There are also issues of self medication and over usage of over the counter drugs.”

Other officials working to counter the pandemic situation in the state also stressed on the issue of late hospitalization and termed it being directly responsible for many fatalities.

According to data analysis released by the Karnataka COVID-19 State War Room earlier this month, persons who are elderly and who have comorbidities or who have SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) must reach designated Covid Hospital at the earliest.  

While average days spent at hospital by patients who recovered is about 15 days, the average days spent in hospital by those who died is just 3.5 days .

Age-wise COVID-19 mortality data

According to data from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), 27 out of 50 persons who succumbed to COVID-19 in the city were 60 years and above in age. Out of the 27, eight were above the age of 70 years. Of the victims, 10 were in the 50 to 60 age range. Six people who died were in their 30s and 40s. Only one person who died was under the age of 29.

The state data bears similar trends. Among the 114 total COVID-19 deaths in the state, 63 were above the age of 60. Twenty-seven fatalities were in the 50 to 60 age group. The death toll is significantly lower for the 40 to 50 age group, at 13. While six persons belonging to the 30 to 40 age range have died, four persons in the 20 to 30 age bracket have passed away. Only one person between 10 to 20 years of age has died.

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