Excess use of steroids leading to COVID-19 complications, Union Health Min warns

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also said that steroids are to be carefully used especially as Mucormycosis or 'black fungus' infections are on the rise due to COVID-19.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Wednesday cautioned people against indiscriminate and excessive use of steroids in treating COVID-19, saying that complications are being seen across the country due to breach of treatment protocols. The minister, who inspected a newly-installed oxygen plant and the construction progress of new COVID-19 blocks at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on Wednesday, May 19 said that people are taking heavy doses of steroids even when they have not turned hypoxic.

"Steroids are to be provided only when a patient is hypoxic, to be administered in small doses to prevent side effects and not more than a few days at a stretch. Recommendations of a doctor are must for the use of these medicines," he said. “These steps should take care of the occurrence of the higher number of Mucormycosis infections being reported country-wide,” he added. He also requested doctors to stick to ICMR guidelines while treating COVID-19 patients.

The health minister reviewed the COVID-19 preparedness of the hospital during a meeting held with its doctors. He also reviewed the functioning of the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plant facility which has been established in record time. This is the third plant to be installed at the Union government hospital in New Delhi after Dr RML Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College, a statement from the Health Ministry said.

Speaking to the media, Vardhan talked about the trend of declining COVID-19 cases in recent days in India. He informed about the 3,89,851 recoveries in the last 24 hours; new cases in the last 24 hours have been at 2,67,334; while the recoveries outnumber the new cases by more than 1 lakhs. The daily recoveries have now outnumbered the new cases for the sixth consecutive day in the country, which has contributed to the reduction of active caseload, the statement said. He also pointed out about the active cases being 32,26,719 as of today.

Vardhan appealed to the citizens for their contribution in bringing down the COVID cases: "Wearing of masks, following hand hygiene and social distancing between individuals; all COVID Appropriate Behaviour when followed in discipline will help check COVID."

He also asked people to be in their homes and venture out only when absolutely necessary.

Vardhan remembered the well-known faces of the medical community who have lost their lives to COVID in recent days and said, "Dr K K Aggarwal, past President of IMA had contributed to popularization of health education among the masses. Dr. Sekhar Agarwal, Orthopedician treated thousands of patients, Dr. Pankaj Bhatnager also helped many cancer patients get better and we have lost them to COVID-19."

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