Coronavirus Outbreak: City doctors overloaded with fearful citizens with mild cold and cough

Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 07:39 IST | Faizan Khan, Diwakar Sharma, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

Doctors urge them to read up, stay indoors and not panic.

This picture has been used for representation purpose only
This picture has been used for representation purpose only

Fear and confusion about the Coronavirus outbreak are sending citizens flocking to their general physicians and paediatricians.

With clinics flooded with patients and calls from those suffering from mild cough and cold, physicians have started taking online consultations and asking people not to visit clinics. The practice is prevalent in the slum pockets of Dharavi, Malwani, Kurla, etc. "People have become health conscious and are focussing on hygiene," said Dr Linus Rodrigues, a physician and diabetologist. "Earlier, people took medicines over the counter, but after the outbreak, they have started consulting general physicians even if they have a mild fever or cough. Nearly 90 per cent of patients coming to me ask about Coronavirus. I ask for their travel history or whether they have met any infected person in the recent past before asking them to get tested."

Virar physician Dr Prashant Walke said he is concerned about an infectious spread in clinics. "If anyone is suffering from a mild cough and cold, they need not visit clinics, but should remain in home quarantine. If they visit a clinic, it could create panic among other patients."

Dr. Pratik Phake, who works in Panvel, said there was an increase in the number of patients suffering from flu and cold two weeks ago. He said increasing awareness has now started keeping the numbers down. "In the last seven days, there has been a significant reduction in the number of patients," he said. "Only one or two patients are coming with coughing and fever complaints. But this may not be true of other parts of the city."

Paediatrician Dr Vikas Gandal from Old Panvel said, "People are worried about their children and are visiting clinics for minor complaints like cold and cough. We have started consultation on phone, asking people to first discuss issues, following which we will call them to the clinic if necessary. Yes, there is panic among them, but the awareness is extremely good, due to which they taking all necessary precautions."

Physician Dr Imran Ahmed, who runs a clinic in Malwani, which has a huge slum population said there has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of patients coming to his clinic with questions about Coronoavirus. "We take their proper history and advice tests only if it is necessary," he said. A medical officer and in-charge of civic hospital in Virar, Dr. Rugved Dudhat said, "India was never ready for this and people should understand the gravity of COVID-19."

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