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Wednesday October 27, 2021

Why healthy, asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are dying at home in Karachi?

May 08, 2020

Sixty COVID-19 patients, including 52 in Karachi, who were mostly asymptomatic (showing no symptoms of the disease), physically healthy and advised to isolate themselves at home, have died in the past 40 days in Sindh, The News has learnt.

The province has so far recorded 171 deaths, most of them in the metropolitan city, of the people who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

However, 60 of them, who were physically healthy and had no symptoms of the disease, collapsed suddenly inside their houses and died before they could be provided any medical treatment.

Confirming this information, Sindh Health Department officials admitted that they have so far been unable to ascertain the causes and reasons behind the sudden deaths of these physically healthy COVID-19 patients.

“Until Thursday, there had been 171 COVID-19 deaths in the entire Sindh, of them 111 people had died at 13 different hospitals while the remaining 60 died at their home, without being able to get any medical treatment,” a health department official told The News on Thursday. “They include people as young as 40 and as old as 82.”

Since February 26, at least 9,093 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Sindh, of which 5,858 were asked to isolate themselves at home, 683 were taken to different isolation centres in Karachi and other cities of the province, and 528 are under treatment at 13 health facilities.

“Of these 60 COVID-19 patients who died at home, 52 died in the six districts of Karachi while the remaining eight in Shaheed Benazirabad, Hyderabad and other parts of the province,” said the health official, adding that the first death in self-isolation was reported in the last week of March.

The statistics gathered by Sindh’s health authorities show that 15 COVID-19 patients have died at home in Karachi’s District Korangi, 10 in District Malir, nine in District Central, eight in District South and five each in the East and West districts.

At least 46 of the 60 COVID-19 patients who died in self-isolation were men and nine women, one of them only 45 years old, said the officials, adding that majority of the patients who died at home after contracting the disease were in their 60s.

“This is quite an alarming situation. Our health officials stay in touch with COVID-19 patients who are in self-isolation through phone, and sometimes they are contacted on a daily basis about their health,” said the health department official. “But for the past few weeks, two or three people are dying daily at home, even though they were otherwise healthy and completely fit the preceding day.”

Fast killer

Explaining the deaths of such a large number of people at their houses after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, infectious diseases specialist and consultant at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) Dr Faisal Mehmood said the condition of COVID-19 patients deteriorates so rapidly that nobody knows what to do, and if they are not provided immediate intensive care, they can die within a couple of hours.

“I have personally seen a patient who was quite healthy in the morning and talking to me, and in the evening his condition deteriorated so rapidly that we had to put him on life support,” said Dr Mehmood.

He added that one of the main reasons of mortality has emerged as pulmonary embolism, in which clots are formed in the blood, which disrupts the supply of blood to the brain and can result in stroke and sudden death.

“And this disease, COVID-19, also puts pressure on the heart. It causes heart failure and the patient dies suddenly. So, there’s a need to monitor the condition of patients in self-isolation so that they can be provided timely first aid,” he said. He warned that with the increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases in Karachi, the number of deaths would also rise.

Responding to a query, he said that the number of cases could rise by the end of this month or by the start of the next month.

He said that the peak of COVID-19 depends on the conditions: whether there is a strict lockdown or if it has been eased so that people are moving freely and gathering.

Hospital deaths

Health officials said that until Thursday, 111 COVID-19 patients had died at 13 hospitals in Sindh, and the highest number of novel coronavirus mortality was reported at the Ojha Campus of the Dow University of Health Sciences, where 23 patients had died.

Twenty-one patients have died at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, 20 at the AKUH, 19 at the Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation and 11 at the Indus Hospital.

Four patients each have died at the Civil Hospital Karachi and the Pakistan Navy Ship Shifa, three at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences and two at the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences. One patient each has died at the Ziauddin Hospital, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Saifee Hospital and Hyderabad’s Combined Military Hospital.