COVID-19: Elderly, persons with co-morbidities need to take precaution, say doctors

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Barring four patients at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), there are no COVID-19 admissions in other major government hospitals in Chennai. However, doctors have sounded a note of caution that the elderly and the persons with co-morbidities should take precautions to prevent COVID-19 infection.

As of Wednesday, Chennai has 80 active COVID-19 cases. The Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, the Government Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital and the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital have no in-patients with COVID-19. “Four patients are admitted at RGGGH. We are mostly seeing symptoms of fever, cough and myalgia with no lung involvement. We are seeing patients with co-morbidities as well as aged patients. This is why wearing masks is important for high risk individuals such as pregnant women, the elderly and persons with co-morbid conditions. If they develop symptoms, they should undergo RT PCR testing for COVID-19,” E. Theranirajan, RGGGH dean, said.

If patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or asthma test positive for COVID-19 or H1N1 infection, their primary issue of COPD or asthma gets worsened. They must wear masks, he added.

Dr. Theranirajan further said that the virulence of the virus (COVID-19) seemed to be less, probably due to herd immunity.

S. Chandrasekar, professor and head, Department of Medicine, Stanley Hospital, said soon after the rain, there was a surge in fever cases (50 to 60 a day). However, it has dropped to 25-30 now. “This is mostly seasonal flu. Unless people have respiratory discomfort or high respiratory rate, no testing for COVID-19 is done. Asymptomatic persons or those with mild symptoms are not tested for COVID-19. COVID-19 will stay with us. We have seen three waves of COVID-19, and multiple variants between Omicron and JN.1. This will help us in developing natural immunity and herd immunity at the community level,” he said.

Nevertheless, persons with co-morbidities should take extra precaution. “In case of persistent fever or breathlessness, they should report to a hospital at the earliest. Persons with co-morbidities and the elderly may have a prolonged illness, while it may resolve in four to five days in most persons,” he added.

P. Paranthaman, professor and head, Department of Medicine, KMC, stressed the need to adhere to COVID-19 norms — avoiding crowded places, wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and frequent handwashing. “All family members should follow the norms to protect the elderly at home,” he said.

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