Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Assam, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said deaths after treatment for coronavirus infection are also rising. He said though there is no clear data, the government estimates that many who have been treated for COVID-19 and who showed negative results went on to develop complications like fibrosis, adding they had to return to hospitals.
A majority among a thousand people are estimated to have died due to post-COVID-19 complications, but they have not been included in coronavirus fatalities data since the complications developed after they turned negative, the Health Minister told reporters today in Guwahati.
"This is a major concern. The post-coronavirus complications are rising. Most patients are managing well in isolation in the first 10 days, but many are also developing breathing issues after turning COVID-19 negative," Mr Sarma said.
"Yesterday, I was handling a similar case from my constituency. The patient has turned serious post-COVID-19. In case of patients like this, the data cannot be included in coronavirus deaths since they are negative. I am told that hospitals have more people with post-COVID-19 issues and many are dying as well," Mr Sarma said.
Assam so far has reported over 1.19 lakh positive cases and over 300 deaths.
"There is a lot of confusion on COVID-19 deaths data. For example, if a coronavirus infected person was treated and later he turned negative but died after developing complications, then that person won't be added to the deaths' list. So there are technicalities," Mr Sarma said.
"The 1,000 figure is my estimation. I don't have clear statistics, but about 1,000 people have died altogether during COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 period. The data that we give is only those patients who have died while they were still positive. But post-COVID-19 deaths are definitely on the rise… Their lungs develop fibrosis," Mr Sarma said.
He said the coronavirus situation in Assam is "worrying". Last month, on an average, Assam had been reporting 2,000 cases a day, but now the average is nearly 3,000, which could lead to close to 1 lakh a month.
The may add a big pressure on health workers and doctors, who are facing fatigue and stress as the fight against the coronavirus stretches to over six months and counting.
Mr Sarma said the state will intensify vigil and take action against people not wearing mask in public and not following safety guidelines.
The Gauhati High Court on Thursday told the Assam Police to strictly enforce wearing masks and other COVID-19 guidelines. A petition had said those violating safety rules were not being stopped effectively across the state.