Covid patients avoid hospital in Punjab

Families prefer home remedies due to cost, fear

Imran Adnan June 21, 2020
A Reuters file image.

LAHORE: At least six people have fallen victim to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in a locality of Township during the past couple of weeks owing to the growing fear of hospitals among the citizens, The Express Tribune learnt on Saturday.

Family members and locals of the neighbourhood highlighted that most of the victims had some previous disease history and they breathed their last fighting a cardiac or respiratory disorder.

Sheikh Mannan, a relative of a middle-aged patient who passed away recently, said his uncle had been suffering from high-grade fever for a few days and was under medical treatment of a local physician. A couple of days before his death, though the fever had been controlled, he started complaining of difficulty in breathing.

“My uncle,” he disclosed, “had suffered a heart attack in the past so all his family members paid special attention to his treatment. His daughters were trained to bring him to the Jinnah Hospital or some nearby clinic in case of any emergency. But this time, they preferred to treat their father at home on the advice of a physician because they were scared of hospitals,” he maintained.

“Their physician told the family to bring the patient to some good private hospital for treatment as public hospitals are already over-crowded and chances of recovery are limited. Since my uncle was a small travel bags’ trader having limited resources, his daughters preferred to keep him home,” Mannan said and demanded that the authorities regulate the tariff of private hospitals as people had started preferring to suffer  at home.

Malik Irfan, a resident of the same neighbourhood, pointed out that some two weeks ago a middle-aged couple passed away in the same street of cardiac arrest. He highlighted that the husband suffered a heart attack and was shifted to Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC). “After a couple of days, his children brought him back owing to limited capacity in the hospital.

They were administering oxygen to the patient at home owing to difficulty in breathing. But he could not survive,” he disclosed. “The news proved lethal for his wife. She could not bear the pain and fell ill in a couple of days. She also had blood pressure, diabetes and cardiac diseases history, she died because of a heart attack,” he said.

Arslan Qureshi, an old resident of Sector A-II, said that earlier two brothers and an old woman from the same street had passed away due to similar medical problems.

“I believe coronavirus has spread in the area but people are reluctant to go to hospitals. At least six people have lost their lives at their homes in a couple of weeks but the government or health authorities are unaware of the situation because no coronavirus test was conducted in any of these cases,” he said.

He also indicated that citizens are reluctant to take their patients to hospitals owing to fear and rumours. “Earlier people were not willing to accept that coronavirus exists and now when we were hearing that people have started falling prey to the deadly virus, they are hesitant to bring their loved ones to hospital for treatment. There is a common impression that the patient would not return alive from the hospital so people are trying to rely on home remedies,” he said.

He underlined that there may be hundreds or even thousands of unreported cases in the provincial capital.

“The government cannot make a real estimate of the calamity or help the patients when people are trying to conceal information about the patients. People are scared of public hospitals and private hospitals are out of their financial reach. Coronavirus is a global emergency; the government should rein in private medical facilities by regulating their tariffs, otherwise many more will die silently in their homes of coronavirus,” the area resident concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2020.

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