As the restrictions have been eased across the country we have seen a surge in the COVID-19 positive cases. Now, it has become imperative to follow the preventive measures laid by the respective government and healthcare authorities, especially for the high-risk group. Despite India currently ranking fourth in the overall global burden of COVID-19 positive patients, it has reasonably done well by having a mere 2.5% COVID 19 related mortality than its western counterparts. The high-risk group have been found to be twice as susceptible to the COVID-19 severe infection.

 What is high risk group?

According to the CDC, it is people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions for severe illness from COVID 19. Some of the areas of the condition follows: Chronic kidney disease, respiratory conditions like COPD, asthma(moderate to severe), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity(more than 30 as BMI).

Cardiac conditions like heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathy. Neurological conditions, such as dementia, pregnancy, liver disease, smoking, type 1 diabetes mellitus, thalassemia. An immunocompromised state like blood and bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of any other immune weakening condition. Children who are medically complex, who have the neurologic, genetic, metabolic condition, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for the severe illness from COVID -19 than other children. People of age less than 10 years and older than 65 years have also been found to be at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.

 Which precautions to be taken by high-risk group?

1. Don’t venture out unnecessarily. In case of necessity take all the precautionary measures laid by the health authorities like wearing of a mask, maintaining physical distance of at least 1 m, avoid crowded places and gatherings. Hand and respiratory hygiene should be maintained. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

2 . Prior appointment should be taken before visiting a hospital. If possible online consultation with the doctor can also be availed.

3. Regular medicines are taken by the taken as advised by the treating doctor for the underlying ailment. Blood pressure and blood glucose should be kept in check by hypertensive and diabetic patients.

4. Foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and other essential nutrients can also be taken in diet.

These are various precautions among various others laid by the government and health authorities.

When to seek help?

As the disease is barely half a year old, new symptoms have been regularly added. CDC has recently added three new symptoms of the novel coronavirus to its ongoing list. Congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea were added including the already conventional symptoms like fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing,fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste, or smell and sore throat. According to the latest data released by MOHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) older people and Immuno-suppressed patients in particular which belong to the high-risk group may present with atypical symptoms such as fatigue, reduced alertness, reduced mobility, diarrhea, loss of appetite, delirium and absence of fever. Children might not have reported fever or cough as frequently as adults.

Until we have a vaccine for this dreaded virus, prevention is the best cure we have. 

The doctor works for a COVID-19 helpline and these are his own thoughts. References have been taken from MOHFW and CDC (USA).