More than 123,000 Covid-19 patients have been treated under home isolation in Delhi, of whom 101,916 have recovered so far, and 40 have died, data available till September 17 from the directorate general of health services (DGHS) showed.
The report also stated that between June 22 and September 17, a total of 54,251 pulse oximeters were given to Covid-19 patients under home isolation. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced on June 22 that pulse oximeters will be given to all Covid-19 patients being treated at home.
Of the total patients prescribed home isolation, 2% had to be shifted to hospitals or Covid health centres as their condition worsened.
Experts who reviewed the home isolation numbers said Delhi’s strategy has been “fairly successful”, with several other states implementing it after initially making institutional quarantine mandatory for all Covid-19 patients including asymptomatic and those with mild symptoms.
“The idea of distributing pulse oximeters also seems to have worked in Delhi since the number of patients who had to be shifted to hospitals is just 2,474 out of 123,000 home isolation patients. Only around 0.032% patients in home isolation have died, which is also commendable. The practice of health care experts making follow-up calls initiated in Delhi is the key to treating Covid-19 at home because one cannot do away with medical supervision in a disease like this,” said Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and infectious disease at the Indian Council of Medical Research.
At least 346,819 calls were made to patients in home isolation till Thursday, as part of the Delhi government’s tele-counselling scheme.
But other experts argued that, ideally, no patients in home isolation should die.
Dr T Jacob John, a retired professor of clinical virology at Christian Medical College, Vellore said, “If there is any death under home isolation, it only means there was neglect. The main cause of death in such cases is usually complications related to the reduction in oxygen saturation levels. The surveillance should be so strict that no senior citizen, even if asymptomatic, should be allowed home isolation, because they are the ones who die without showing any Covid pneumonia symptoms,” he said.
As per the national guidelines for home isolation, which are followed in Delhi as well, elderly patients aged more than 60 years are allowed home isolation, but only after proper evaluation by the treating medical officer. John emphasised that the proper evaluation by the medical officers becomes very significant in such cases and that there should not be any lapses in the process.
Data also showed that Northwest district, which has the highest case load of all 11 districts in Delhi, has the most patients under home isolation (22,435), recoveries (19,397) as well as deaths (11) under the same category. This was followed by west district, which had a total of 16,648 patients in home isolation till September 17.
Only New Delhi and Southwest districts reported zero deaths under home isolation, as of September 17, while north district had the highest ratio of deaths with five of the total 7,987 patients under home isolation dying.
Kant said the concept of home isolation helps the city take the load off hospitals.
“This way, serious patients are treated and given better attention in the hospitals,” he said.
As per Wednesday’s health bulletin, the number of Covid-19 patients in Delhi who are in home isolation fell by 1,379 as compared to Monday. On Wednesday, 17,834 persons were under home isolation, as compared to 19,213 on Monday. On Tuesday, the number had dropped by 750 compared to Monday, which was a decline recorded after nearly a month of a steady rise in such cases.
Since last week of August, both the number of home isolation cases and containment zones have shown a steadily rise, except on September 19 when the count of home isolation cases was 18,648, a very marginal fall from the previous day’s figure of 18,701. However, this Tuesday, for the first time in nearly 30 days, home isolation case count fell by a sizeable margin of 749, to 18,646.
The Delhi government said in addition to pulse oximeters it has now also started to provide oxygen concentrators to Covid-19 patients under home isolation who ask for it.
“Our home isolation concept is perhaps the first of its kind not just in India but in the world. Our teams continue to contact each home isolation patient two to three times a day to check their body temperature, oxygen levels and symptoms, if any. It has also boosted the number of tests in the city as people are no longer afraid that testing positive for Covid-19 would mean having to be locked up in institutional quarantine. Since over 80% of Covid-positive persons in Delhi have been asymptomatic, it helped them recover in the comfort of their home and loved ones,” a government spokesperson said.
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