COVID-19 cases have been on a staggering rise in India. While state governments across the country have been contemplating to extend the lockdown, we caught up with Dr. Rakesh Godavarthi, ENT surgeon at Pinnacle Hospital in Vizag, as he sheds light on various aspects surrounding COVID-19.
What are the obvious signs of coronavirus infection?
“In most cases, COVID-19 affects patients and goes away silently – which is why the spread is so rampant. The patient is asymptomatic and experiences no difficulty. However, during this phase, the person becomes a carrier. While there is no symptom that gives away the presence of the virus, patients with breathing difficulties must be given extra attention.”
What are the age-groups that are more susceptible to the virus?
“COVID-19 as a virus has the capacity to affect people across the board. Any person can be affected by it. However, in my practice, I have seen middle-aged people having higher recovery rates. Elders above 60 and children under 10 years old must be taken care of first since their immunity is compromised. Based on the viral load (the number of virus particles in a milliliter of blood), the patient can experience varying levels of difficulty. People with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or other lung issues suffer the most since their lungs aren’t operational at full capacity.”
Would you like to state a precautionary measure that is imperative at this stage?
“Wearing a mask while heading out is important. This is because we are slowly reaching a stage where asymptomatic carriers may be around us, or we could be a carrier for coronavirus. So, a mask in this stage becomes compulsory to contain the virus. People don’t have to scramble for N95 or surgical masks. They can even use a simple handkerchief to protect themselves.”
How do you view the local authorities’ response in containing COVID-19 in Vizag?
The ENT surgeon is all praise for the local authorities in Vizag. “GVMC has been doing commendable work during this time. All the measures – including tracking the travel history of patients and disinfecting hot-spots- are being done as per the prescribed norms. This is the need of the hour. All the GVMC staff working on-ground and policemen on the roads must also be given Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) aside from doctors and nurses. I understand procuring equipment during the crisis is difficult, being a doctor myself. But, I am sure the GVMC and State Government will ensure this for the safety of all citizens.”
You have been working on the front line for us. How is the doctors’ community doing at this time?
“I would like to give out a message, here. Being infected by COVID-19 is shocking for anybody. However, it is essential that patients accept their reality, instead of slipping into denial. The patient might think that they have simple flu and misbehave with the doctor working round the clock for their safety. Patients must cooperate with the doctors and treat them with respect. People working on the front line, including nurses, policemen, and doctors, need to have their spirits up during this time. This can only happen with both citizens’ and the government’s support.”